Swiss Bencic clinches maiden WTA title

Belinda Bencic defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 4-6 6-0 on Saturday to win the first WTA title of her career at Eastbourne and hailed the influence of superstar compatriot Martina Hingis.

The trophy breakthrough for the 18-year-old Swiss denied the ninth-seeded Pole, and 2012 Wimbledon finalist, a second title at Devonshire Park on the English south coast.

Bencic, coached part-time by Martina Hingis and by Hingis’s mother Melanie Molitor, was playing in the third final of her career.

The 2013 Wimbledon girls champion was beaten this month in the grass-court final at Den Bosch in the Netherlands by Italian Camila Giorgi.

Bencic got away to an untouchable treble break in the third set for 5-0 as she finished the job against the 2008 Eastbourne champion with a forehand winner to the corner.

The youngster credited Hingis and her mother with “teaching me everything I know”.

“This is the biggest day of may career,” said the world number 31 who will rise 10 places after her maiden trophy.

“This is a dream come true. I’m so happy to win my first title here. I woke up very nervous this morning and even in practise I was nervous.

“But once on the court I tried to fight for every point, I tried my best.”

Bencic, who finished with 41 winners and 22 unforced errors, won the opening set in just under an hour.

Radwanska denied the teenager a straight sets victory by taking the second to level after Bencic came back from an early break but lost the set with a backhand long.

In the third, the Swiss quickly recovered her poise to run away to the win in just over two hours.

Radwanska, close to tears in the trophy ceremony, committed nearly 50 unforced errors.

“I’m happy to have played the final, I tried my best but Belinda was better today. After I won the second set I knew things could change quickly,” said the Pole.

“But it was a very tight match and I was just not there in the third set.”

Bencic benefited from two injury retirements this week (Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Wozniacki), spending only 13 minutes on court in her semi-final when Wozniacki stopped after three games with a back problem.

Radwanska had been bidding for the 15th trophy of her career and second on grass.

Bencic, at 18 the second-youngest member of the WTA top 100, improved her career grass-court record to 11-2.

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