It’s not exactly the breakfast of champions. But it was what the newly crowned Credit One Charleston Open champion Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic craved on after defeating Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur April 10 in a 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 thriller to open the clay-court season.
“You know what; I really want to go to Krispy Kreme doughnuts,” she replied when asked what was on the victory-celebration menu. “I really love doughnuts, and while in the U.S., I think this is the most important. And, also, I want to go to Chipotle tomorrow before the flight because it’s my last chance.”
“I love cheap meals,” said Bencic, who collected a $158,000 paycheck by winning the tournament, which celebrated 50 years of a rich and treasured history. “And yeah, my favorite now is, for sure, doughnuts because I’ve been eating healthy. I was watching my diet and everything, but now it’s time to eat something bad.”
The 25-year-old Bencic was the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in Tokyo.
Sunday, Bencic won her first-clay court title and became the first Swiss Miss to capture the tournament title since former World No. 1 Martina Hingis won in 1999, when the tournament was played on Hilton Head Island and called the Family Circle Cup. Hingis, who Bencic idolized growing up, also won the FCC title in ’97.
Bencic, World No. 21 previously, is now No. 13 with the victory.
Bencic and World No. 9 Jabeur slugged it out in a two-hour, 35-minute match that tested the heart and soul, not to mention the muscles and mind. The match was played before an impressive and appreciative audience at Credit One Stadium on a sunny, beautiful and brisk spring day.
The crowd caught the attention of both players, especially Jabeur.
“The crowd is amazing,” Jabeur said. “I think without them, I would have lost maybe two quick sets. But their support reminded me of never giving up. It’s what I needed the whole match. I tried to push until the last moment, but not this time. Hopefully next time.”
Jabeur has a lofty ranking. But she doesn’t have much hardware to show for her effort. She is 1-4 in WTA championships. She still hasn’t won a WTA 500 event, a tournament about the size and stature as the Credit One Charleston Open.
The 27-year-old fought back tears during the awards ceremony and during the post-match press conference. She said her tears were the result of her record in finals and Sunday’s loss.
“Being here, it’s such a great tournament,” Jabeur said. “I lost already two finals. I think about losing finals, it doesn’t help much. But I didn’t want to disappoint my team. We’ve had really tough moments here, but hopefully… next time. It’s crying day today.”
Meanwhile, Bencic’s victory on Sunday was her sixth career title. It certainly wasn’t easy.
She was three points away from losing in the first round and had to play five matches, including three three-setters.
Bencic fell to her knees and covered her face in reaction to her victory. She sought to offer solace to Jabeur in the form of a hug as the two met at the net. She knew tough times and luck can sideline dreams.
In 2014, Bencic shocked some in the clay-court world by reaching the semifinals in Charleston as a qualifier who was ranked World 140. But she was slowed by injuries and now seems to be rounding into form.
“This is the first tournament that I made my breakthrough at, when I was 17,” said Bencic, a former top-5 player. “I didn’t think I would ever have another chance. As a young girl you never know. I’m so happy that I can do it.”
(Credit – Daniel Island News)