Belinda Bencic reached her first grand slam semi-final with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over Donna Vekic at the US Open on Thursday.
World number 12 Bencic has a slew of top-10 scalps to her name this year, beating Naomi Osaka for the third time in 2019 to reach this stage, but has repeatedly come unstuck against more modest opponents.
One such example was a Roland Garros reverse against Vekic but, despite a wobble in the first set, there was to be no repeat this time.
Bencic’s reward is a last-four meeting with either Bianca Andreescu or Elise Mertens and the promise she will herself return to the top 10 when the rankings are updated next week.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2019
Chances were at a premium in a tight and tense opening to the match, with the first set staying on serve without a single break point opportunity until the ninth game.
Bencic appeared to become distracted at 40-15 up and crumbled, a double-fault teeing up a break point that was capitalised on when the Swiss went long in the next rally.
Bencic responded in style by powering through Vekic’s next service game, though, and forced her into the net to break back, although the number 13 seed was hugely frustrated not to edge the opener before a tiebreak.
The pair traded early mini-breaks but Bencic recovered some composure to take control and ease past her close friend, roaring with delight as the set was sealed.
Having let her frustrations boil over briefly, it was ultimately Bencic’s calm that got her through as she held with confidence and preyed on some poor serving from Vekic to break at 4-3 in the second.
Vekic had been down match point in the previous round against Julia Goerges but another fightback never appeared likely and she failed to rescue another tough service game, going wide to hand Bencic a landmark victory.
Belinda Bencic  bt Donna Vekic  7-6 (7-5) 6-3
Bencic – 20/21
Vekic – 28/28
Bencic – 8/7
Vekic – 4/1
BREAK POINTS WON
Bencic – 3/8
Vekic – 1/1
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Bencic – 58
Vekic – 55
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Bencic – 84/52
Vekic – 72/43
Bencic – 78
Vekic – 65