Swiss teen Belinda Bencic upset world No.1 Serena Williams by coming from behind for a 3-6 7-5 6-4 victory in the semi-finals of the WTA Tour’s Rogers Cup on Saturday.
Williams, a 21-time Grand Slam winner, suffered just her second loss this year to the 18-year-old Bencic as the oldest and youngest players in the singles draw met in a tense three-set thriller.
Bencic is the youngest player to beat Williams, 33, since she lost to a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.
Bencic has won 20 of her last 24 matches as she beat two top-10 ranked players (Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic) to reach the semis.
She advances to Sunday’s final, where she will face Simona Halep, who booked her spot with a 6-4 6-4 win over Italy’s Sara Errani earlier in the day.
Halep fell behind 0-2 in the first set then roared back to win the next four games, breaking twice to seize the lead and holding at love for a 4-2 edge.
She held twice more to claim the first set in 43 minutes, taking advantage of 19 unforced errors by Errani.
“It was difficult to manage the tension,” Halep said.
“I had a little bit of pressure. You feel butterflies in your stomach.”
In the second set, Halep opened by breaking Errani, who then broke back only to have Halep break yet again as control teetered.
Errani broke back again in the eighth game, Halep slamming her racket on the concrete in frustration after falling level at 4-4.
But then Halep forced a break, retaking the lead by winning the ninth game when Errani hit a forehand beyond the baseline and the Romanian held serve for the victory, the last point coming when Errani swatted a backhand long.
“I didn’t play my best tennis but I played well enough to win the match,” Halep said.
“I knew she would play great. I tried everything. I was fighting until the end.”
It was the third win in four tries for Halep over Errani, having lost their first matchup at Miami in 2013 but winning last year in a Doha quarter-final and earlier this year at Stuttgart.