Belinda Bencic won the Credit One Charleston Open on Sunday, her sixth Hologic WTA Tour title. The No.10 seed from Switzerland outlasted No.4 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in a gripping championship match on the green clay.
Appearing in just her first career clay-court final, Bencic fought through a back-and-forth third set before clinching the trophy in 2 hours and 35 minutes of play.
Bencic is the first Swiss woman to win this WTA 500 event since former World No.1 Martina Hingis captured the crown in 1999.
Words from the winner: "Super proud to win the first title on clay," Bencic said after the match. "I think it was a week where I was fighting. I was two points away from the exit in the first round, and I feel like this is how you win the tournament.
"I'm just really relieved I served it out. I think Ons, she took everything from me today. And at some point I just really didn't know what to do anymore, and I think she played great in the second set. ... I was just trying to fight every point.
"It means a lot, and especially this is the 50th anniversary of [the tournament], and it makes me so happy that I am among those names, especially when I saw yesterday all the former champions."
By the numbers: Last year’s Olympic gold medalist Bencic picked up the 29th Top 10 win of her career.
Before this week, Bencic was just 1-4 against Top 10 opposition on clay, but she added two Top 10 wins in Charleston, against Paula Badosa in the quarterfinals and Jabeur on Sunday.
In the final, Bencic won 70 percent of her first-service points, and she converted seven of a 19 break points. That would be enough to fend off the comeback from Jabeur, who nearly repeated her exploits from Saturday, when she turned around her semifinal against Amanda Anisimova.
With the title, the former World No.4 Bencic rose from her current position of No.21 to No.13 in Monday's new rankings. The runner-up Jabeur climbed one spot in the ranking, from No.10 to No.9.
Tale of the match: Bencic never faced a break point in the first set, winning 90 percent of her first-serve points during the opener. But after Jabeur fell behind by a break in the opening game of the second set, the Tunisian struck back, firing a forehand winner crosscourt to earn her first break of the day.
The tilt was evenly matched from there, with Jabeur saving two break points before gritting out a critical hold for 6-5 in the second set. Jabeur was rewarded for her persistence when she slammed a forehand winner down the line to break Bencic in the next game, swiping the set.
In an unpredictable third set, Bencic moved ahead for good after superb groundstroke depth gave her a break for 4-3. Bencic did not convert her first championship point on Jabeur’s serve at 5-3, but the Swiss was untroubled when serving for the title, closing out the match with a dominant love hold.
Doubles delight for Klepac and Linette
No.4 seeds Andreja Klepac and Magda Linette were pushed to the limit in the Credit One Charleston Open doubles final before taking the title over Lucie Hradecka and Sania Mirza 6-2, 4-6, [10-7].
Klepac and Linette played together for the first time this week, and it proved to be an auspicious team debut, capped by victory in the 1-hour and 24-minute final. Doubles World No.13 Klepac is now up to 11 Hologic WTA Tour doubles titles in her career.
"Feeling very happy, of course," Klepac said afterward. "First time playing with Magda, and winning the tournament, I think the result is everything."
For Linette, a memorable week in Charleston ends with her first WTA doubles title. Linette also made the singles quarterfinals this week, which was marked by a brilliant yet grueling Thursday, where she won back-to-back three-setters over Leylah Fernandez and Kaia Kanepi.
"I was twice in [previous doubles] finals, so I'm so happy I got a partner that helped me to win the first title," Linette said.
Klepac and Linette were tested by former Top 5 doubles player Hradecka and former Doubles World No.1 Mirza, who have a combined 69 doubles titles between them.
Hradecka and Mirza came back from 3-7 down to level the match-tiebreak at 7-7, but Klepac and Linette reeled off the last three points of the encounter.