MELBOURNE, Australia -- Belinda Bencic arrived at the Australian Open feeling the best she ever has going into a major.
She is 7-1 this season. That one loss came against No.1 Iga Swiatek in a high-quality duel at the United Cup.
Fresh off the title at the Adelaide International 2, Bencic, the No.10 player in the world, is through to the third round in Melbourne with straight-set wins over Viktoriya Tomova and Claire Liu.
Still, the 25-year-old Swiss player is aware how quickly the winds can change. Her path toward a first major title in Melbourne only gets harder from here. While Bencic made the third round at the Australian Open for the fifth time in her career, she's reached the Round of 16 only once.
"I thought in Adelaide the matches were really good from my side, also a good test because I had different kinds of opponents from the game style. I'm happy with the title, for sure, and just with the good results," Bencic said.
"But still, you come to a Grand Slam, it starts from zero. It doesn't help me anymore that I won Adelaide. Congrats to me, but now what?"
Next up is Camila Giorgi in the third round. Bencic has won three of their four completed matches, though they have not played since 2019.
Aside from the burst of extreme heat on Day 2 of the tournament, the weather has been unseasonably cool during the tournament. It has been tricky adjust for Bencic, who played her first six matches of the season under cover.
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"Today outdoors, it was different," Bencic said. "I think it's always different if it's flying the ball or if it's not flying, if it's evening, if it's cold, if it's hot. It's really difficult to adjust."
Yet given her form to start the season, Bencic has planted herself on the short list of contenders for the title. Under new coach Dmitry Tursunov, she has looked focused and ruthless from the baseline and her serve has been even more of a weapon.
"Sometimes you are feeling great. You can win the same morning and lose to the same person in the evening. It's always so many circumstances. It's really difficult for me to say, 'OK, just because now I won Adelaide, I won a few matches in a row, now suddenly I have to win the Australian Open.'
"It's nice for everybody to say she's the favorite or she can be one of the favorites or she has a chance. Still, every match is different. I experienced a lot of times I was feeling very good all the tournament, and suddenly comes the match and I don't know how to play tennis anymore.
"I have to really focus on just what I have to do and just block out the noise outside."
Shutting out the noise might be the biggest challenge for Bencic. She admits she's aware of the chatter about her chances, but it's all just talk and people are as fickle as ever.
"Maybe unconsciously you are aware of what people are saying. On the other [hand], I'm thinking, who are these people? Are they me when I'm playing on the court? Do they know how I feel, sleep, wake up, how I eat, how my body feels? You never know what's really going on.
"People are so quick to shift to, this one is in form, now this one and this one. It's not helping me on the court, so why should I think about it?"