WATCH: Bencic survived an opening-round test against Veronika Kudermetova before advancing into the quarterfinals in straight sets.

Belinda's still catching her breath. The 24-year-old Bencic, who is playing the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy this week, says she is still recovering from the coronavirus illness she endured before the start of the season.

Bencic was among several players who tested positive for the virus following the exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, and is still experiencing lingering effects.

"It was not easy," she said in a press conference following her second-round win against Kaja Juvan in St. Petersburg. "I have been diagnosed with something in my lungs which is not normal. And still, I'm happy I can play but it's going to take me a while to recover—they said about two, three months.

"I think it happens with a lot of athletes that your fitness, it's not the same level.

"So, it's very tough but I have to, you know, just work with what I have."


Bencic has also had to adjust her goals accordingly for the next little while. She reached the third round in Sydney before exiting the Australian Open in the second round.

"It's also what happened, in Australia," she said. "I kind of expected I will maybe not have the best chance to win a lot of matches, but I'm trying my best to get back to shape."

But Bencic is still positive about what she can accomplish in the longer term. Having reached the Top 10 as a teenager, she experienced frequent injury problems but got to No. 4 in 2020 and won gold at the Tokyo Olympics for Switzerland, a career highlight.

"I'm so happy I won the gold," she said, though currently No. 24 in the rankings. "This kind of relaxed me a lot but I still want to keep working and reaching more goals."

Seeded fifth in St. Petersburg, Bencic reached the quarterfinals before bowing out to No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, 7-6 (7), 6-2.