Belinda Bencic is no stranger to injury lay-offs, having missed large swaths of the 2016 and 2017 seasons due to persistent wrist pain.

That experience, says the Swiss star, proved unlikely preparation for the global pandemic that sidelined plays for nearly all of last year.

"Last year was one to forget," she told Daniela Hantuchova on her Roland Garros YouTube show "Chatting With Daniela."

"It almost felt like we never played, even though we did a little at the start and end, but I definitely want to forget last year. Hopefully we can play more, and everyone’s gotten used to making tournaments in these conditions. I’ve definitely missed tennis, and so I want to play tournaments no matter how they’re staged."


A former junior prodigy, Bencic enjoyed a career renaissance in 2019 with a run to the US Open semifinals, and was ranked as high as No. 4 on the WTA rankings just before the tour initiated its lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Missing both the US Open and Roland Garros, the 23-year-old played just one official match in Rome after action resumed, and is eager to mark her return with a successful Australian summer after her quarantine.

"It’s much different conditions from what we’re used to, so it took time to figure out," Bencic admits. "Traveling isn’t easy anymore. We have to take a lot of tests, and you can’t really move around during a tournament; you’re pretty much only in your hotel or the tennis court. It’s difficult to stay sane and in your routine because it has changed completely.

"There’s a lot of focus on tennis these days; there isn’t any more going out for dinners and having nice foods. Still, this is our jobs and if it’s like this, we have to accept it and do everything we can just to play. It’s still fun to be at tournaments, but it’s better before."

The time off forced the 2019 Dubai champion draw on her experience from previous time taken away from tennis, and notes how disappointment can be its own motivating force as she looks ahead to the new season.

"In the moment, you’re very frustrated to be injured, and you’re asking yourself why it has to be this way, but you come to appreciate everything so much more. It gives you motivation and adds perspective. Sometimes the motivation can be low, but when you’re injured and can’t play, you become very motivated to come back. That kind of joy and perspective lifts you up, and I felt very similarly throughout last year, when I couldn’t play as much and had to be at home. I definitely have hunger again for tennis."

With that hunger comes clear goals, specifically a 500-ranking point gap between Bencic and a return to the Top 10.

"Hopefully I can make it back, and climb up the rankings to be as high as possible, and also focus on the big tournaments, as well."

Check out the full interview with Hantuchova on the official Roland Garros YouTube Channel.