Modern US Open classics: When teenage Belinda Bencic produced a huge upset
If there is one thing that the US Open crowd loves, it’s a plucky underdogs. After all, New York is the city of the underdog. Just ask Belinda Bencic.
In fact, the likes of Juan Martin del Potro remains a US Open legend to this day with the crowd at the Billie Jean King Center after he beat Roger Federer to win the 2009 title, and Emma Raducanu will be a Flushing Meadow legends long after she has retired.
You don’t have to win the whole thing to endear yourself to the crowd in New York, though. Sometimes, just taking on the odds is enough, as Bencic found in 2014.
Being a tennis player from Switzerland definitely comes with pressure. In her ASICS Solution Speed FF2 shoes, she has had the considerable footsteps of Roger Federer and Martina Hingis to try to follow, and a spectacular US Open debut certainly didn’t do much to alleviate the pressure of expectation.
Early wins over Yanina Wickmayer and Kurumi Nara suggested the 17-year-old Bencic had plenty of talent, but everyone expected sixth seed Angelique Kerber to put her in her place in round three.
German Kerber was still a couple of years away from her peak, but she was well established in the top ten and few thought a teenage US Open debutant could take her out, especially on Court Arthur Ashe – the biggest venue in all of tennis.
“I was fresh straight from the juniors and I was playing out of my mind. I had nothing to lose,” recalled Bencic.
“Everything was so big. Arthur Ashe Stadium was the most impressive stadium ever. Wow, I was so happy to be there. You always see people playing on TV there. It feels like a surreal moment.”
Bencic would go on to dominate, winning 6-1, 7-5 thanks so some powerful serving and an unerringly consistent backhand for such a young player. It was no fluke either, as she proved in the next round when she beat another top ten seed, Jelena Jankovic.
Nearly a decade on, Bencic has been as high as number four in the world and has also won Olympic gold, and although the 2014 US Open wasn’t her best Slam, it was definitely her most memorable.
You can relive her giant-killing of Angelique Kerber in the video above.
Belinda Bencic at 2023 US Open
Belinda Bencic is enjoying one of her best seasons on the WTA Tour and has won titles in Adelaide and Abu Dhabi. She also reached the final of the Charleston Open.
Her US hardcourt swing though has been a frustrating one, with her getting into the semi-finals in Washington and Montreal before running into in-form players who were just too good for her on the day.
She was still quite well fancied in New York, though. After all, surprisingly the US Open is the only slam in which she has ever been past the last 16.
Sadly, though, it was not to be. She eased her way into the round of 16 before being dominated by the first seed she ran into – Sorana Cirstea.
Belinda Bencic and ASICS
Belinda wears ASICS Solution Speed FF2 trainers which are the latest version of the Japanese performance brand’s specialist tennis shoe designed for attacking players who want a light shoe to help maximise their dynamic movements around the whole court. You can learn more about the 2nd version of the Solution Speed from this recent Tennishead review which includes a play-test video.
This second version of the Solution Speed FF has been given a number of technological enhancements as well as a few funky new colour schemes.The toe grip area has received a new traction system to help improve your speed when running forwards to chase down those annoying drop shots. A split outsole separates the front and back of the sole to improve flexibility for lateral movements and reduce the weight of the shoe. The foam in the heel of the shoe, called Flytefoam, has been updated specifically for tennis to provide even more cushioning exactly where a tennis player needs it.
All Tennishead CLUB members have the choice to receive ASICS Solution Speed FF2 trainers along with a full ASICS tennis outfit when they join. Full details on how to become a member of the World’s first virtual tennis club can be found here.
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