WIMBLEDON, Great Britain -- Former Top 10 player Belinda Bencic of Switzerland stunned a top seed in the opening round of a Grand Slam for the second time this year, defeating No.6 seed Caroline Garcia of France, 7-6(2), 6-3, to move into the second round of Wimbledon on Tuesday.
"The key to win the match was, for sure, I think, to play smart," Bencic told the media during her post-match press conference. "You know, I didn't think I played my greatest-ever tennis, but I think on grass it's not possible. You just need to be ready: you know, the serve, return, next shot, and just start the rally really good."
Bencic started her Grand Slam season with a shocking upset of Venus Williams at the Australian Open, but has experienced patchy results and injury issues since. However, the Swiss player regained her form at the perfect time, taking down Garcia in 93 minutes to reach the second round at Wimbledon for the fourth time in the last five years.
"I have zero concerns," said Bencic, when asked about any current injury problems. "But, you know, guys, you always ask that and I say, 'Oh, it's good now,' and then I get injured again...I'm fine, I'm still here, I'm surviving, but let's not jinx it," Bencic said with a smile.
A difficult second-round opponent awaits for Bencic, as she will next face grass-court maven Alison Riske of the United States. Riske dismantled lucky loser Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia on Tuesday, by the scoreline of 6-1, 6-1.
Bencic took an early 2-0 lead before Garcia started to hit through the court more effectively with her forehand, and the Frenchwoman leveled the set at 3-3. Garcia had an opportunity to dominate the first set from there, reaching triple break point on Bencic’s serve at 3-4, but the Swiss player staved all three chances off and held for 4-4.
The unseeded Bencic got herself through a tricky service game at the end of the set, holding for 6-6 behind well-timed powerful forehands of her own, and sending the opener into a tiebreak. Bencic started the tiebreak with a huge 4-0 lead, as a visibly frustrated Garcia was unable to keep her backhand in play.
Bencic stayed consistent to reach 5-2, sending the serve back to Garcia with the Frenchwoman in a precarious position. Garcia double faulted, ceding a 6-2 lead and quadruple set point to Bencic. Another backhand miscue by Garcia, this time into the net, meant Bencic only needed the single chance to lead by a set.
Despite having 17 winners and 15 unforced errors, Garcia failed to take the opening frame from Bencic, who had eight winners and nine unforced errors. Bencic was claiming the important points, and she did so again in the second set, breaking Garcia at love to clinch a pivotal 4-2 lead.
A quick hold by Bencic for 5-2 put Garcia in dire straits, and the Frenchwoman had to save one match point on her serve with a forehand crosscourt winner. But even a comeback Garcia hold for 5-3 would not stop Bencic, and she won the encounter on her second match point in the following game, squealing with delight after a final Garcia forehand into the net.
Among other matches, 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, who had to navigate the qualifying rounds this year, survived a second-set lapse to oust British wild card Gabriella Taylor, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. This sets up an intriguing second-round match between Bouchard and No.17 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty moved past Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, 7-5, 6-3.
Last year's junior champion, American Claire Liu, also made the main draw this year after qualifying. Liu clinched her first-ever main draw victory at a Grand Slam on Tuesday, ousting Ana Konjuh of Croatia, 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3. Liu claimed victory with a service return winner that clipped the netcord and barely fell onto Konjuh's side of the court.
Vera Lapko of Belarus also picked up her maiden Grand Slam main draw win, eliminating American Christina McHale, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 to complete a match that started on Monday. McHale double faulted on Lapko's second match point to hand over a milestone victory to the Belarusian.
Also, No.15 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium eliminated American Danielle Collins, 6-3, 6-2, No.26 seed Daria Gavrilova of Australia dispatched American lucky loser Caroline Dolehide, 6-2, 6-3, and No.28 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia cruised past Czech Denisa Allertova, 6-2, 6-2.
2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur continued a great day for the Australians, beating Peng Shuai of China, 6-4, 7-5. But No.30 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia was upset, falling to Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
More to follow...