After reaching No. 7 in the world in February 2016—and, a year earlier, beating four Top 10 players, including Serena Williams, en route to Rogers Cup title in Toronto—Bencic began a precipitous drop that saw her ranked outside the Top 300 just a year later. Her plummet was largely the result wrist surgery, but the teenager's star had fallen so much that the one-time can't-miss pro decided to tour the ITF Pro Circuit. Slowly but surely, Bencic has worked her way back, near the top of the sport, and 2019 has been a confirmation of her talent, which has never waned.
Earlier this year, Bencic won her second Premier 5 title, in Dubai, where she also beat Top 10 players—Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova—during her victorious run.
“I played those small events and built my confidence back up with my ranking,” Bencic said of her 2017 comeback. “Because with the wrist, you never know if it’s going to be good or going to hold. You hear so many stories of someone needing a second wrist surgery and then another one, and it wasn’t great.”
After trading breaks to begin the Friday proceedings against another talented youngster, Anisimova, Bencic took control of the opening set, not taking her foot of the pedal. In the second set, Anisimova managed to retrieve one of the breaks in the fourth game, but the Swiss bounced back, taking the last four games to clinch the match in style.
The 17-year-old American’s second serve let her down as double faults did her in—she committed eight overall. Anisimova's movement was unusually sluggish; it’s likely she was experiencing some pain in her right thigh, which was heavily taped.
Anisimova, coming off a French Open semifinal run, had never played a tour-level grass-court match before this week in Mallorca. Despite the quarterfinal loss, the event is a positive takeaway for the Anisimova—even if Bencic's take will be even greater.