Five years after last Slam QF, Bencic "stronger person, better player"

Five years after last Slam QF, Bencic "stronger person, better player"

On Monday, the Swiss halted Naomi Osaka's US Open title defense, her third consecutive win over the defending champion.

NEW YORK—Belinda Bencic is back in a Grand Slam quarterfinal and says she's a better player than the first time she did it as a teenager in 2014.

Both those quarterfinals have come at the US Open, and this time the 22-year-old from Switzerland did it by defeating defending champion and top-seeded Naomi Osaka in straight sets. The former prodigy next plays Donna Vekic for a spot in the semifinals.

She points to some recent improvements she has made to her game.

"I think I definitely improved my serve," she said. "I think, as well, I added a little bit of power on my forehand. I think just generally I think the mental part is just really important. In these Top-50 players, everyone can play very good tennis, so it's not about who can hit a better backhand or who can hit a better forehand."

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But Bencic isn't changing the variety or anticipation for which her game is known.

"Obviously I always adapt to my opponent. That's just how I play. I don't have the biggest power, don't have the most winners or most aces. But I think I can really read the opponent's game," she said.

She has also won Dubai and reached the semifinals of Madrid this season to rebound from a long stretch of injuries. Though it has been a long climb back, Bencic regards the experience as an important part of her career development.

"Athletes have to overcome obstacles, injuries, just tough times," she said. "I think it made me a stronger person, better player."

Bencic is No. 12 in the rankings.

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