2017 Season Review: Belinda Bencic makes successful return from injury

It has been a weird 2017 for Belinda Bencic as she had to endure through several injury issues earlier in the year before claiming 2 WTA titles in her last tournaments of the year.

2017 Season Review: Belinda Bencic makes successful return from injury
Belinda Bencic's fighting spirit allowed her to return to her best | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

It has been quite a comeback for Belinda Bencic this year. Returning from a serious wrist injury, the Swiss youngster had to start from rock bottom, undermining all her achievements earlier in her young career. From being ranked 312th in September, the talented 20 year-old has made her way back into the top-100 by the end of the year.

Win-loss record

Bencic owns a 29-12 win-loss record in 2017, but it is understandable considering she played the first quarter of the year while being hindered by health issues. Furthermore, the Swiss only lost to players of a lower ranking on three different occasions this year and has beaten higher-ranked players 18 times.

Bencic won an ITF 100k title coupled with two WTA 125k series trophies and all of which came towards the end of the year when she was making her comeback to professional tennis. With her triumphs, the Swiss miss returned to the top-100 in November and almost certainly sealed a spot in the main draw of the 2018 Australian Open with some smart scheduling.

Belinda Bencic posing along with her title in Taipei | Photo: OEC Taipei WTA Challenger
Belinda Bencic posing along with her title in Taipei | Photo: OEC Taipei WTA Challenger

High Points

Although not playing her best tennis, Bencic managed to play a pivotal role in helping Switzerland earn a place in the semifinals of the Fed Cup after clinching the third point for her country with a good win over Pauline Parmentier. This came after compatriot Timea Bacsinszky won both of her matches.

Her first good showing this year came at the Neva Cup, an ITF 100k event held in St. Petersburg. It was also her comeback tournament after being sidelined for a total of five months. She performed excellently, losing just a mere 23 games on her way to the title. She defeated notable players like Vitalia Diatchenko, Ysaline Bonaventure, Anhelina Kalinina before ousting young talent Dayana Yastremska. Bencic then reached the semifinals in the ITF 25k event held in Clermont-Ferrand with Bibiane Schoofs ending her eight-match winning streak.

Belinda Bencic in action at the BNP Paribas Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America
Belinda Bencic in action at the BNP Paribas Open | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America

Bencic was then given a wildcard into the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, and she certainly made good use of the opportunity handed to her as the Swiss defeated top-80 players Kirsten Flipkens and Lara Arruabarrena to reach her first WTA quarterfinals since 2016. There, she put up an extremely tough fight before falling short to the inspired Mihaela Buzarnescu in two-hours and 30-minutes. Nonetheless, it was still an incredible tournament for Bencic.

The Swiss continued to actively participate in the ITF 100k tournaments, and this time she once again reached the semifinals in Poitiers. Defeating three tough opponents consecutively in straight sets, Bencic surprisingly came up short in a one-sided encounter against Alison Van Uytvanck, winning only five games in the process.

Belinda Bencic also participated in the Hopman Cup this year | Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac
Belinda Bencic also participated in the Hopman Cup this year | Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac

Coming into the Hua Hin Championships unseeded and unheralded, Bencic stormed to the quarterfinals before recovering from a bagel down to defeat Diatchenko once again. An excellent victory over Ana Bogdan followed before she eased past Hsieh Su-wei in the final for her first WTA title of any kind since 2015.

Bencic played her second consecutive WTA 125k event at the OEC Taipei WTA Challenger but was given a relatively tough draw. She had to battle past the third seed Duan Yingying in the opening round before reaching yet another final with two wins over her compatriots. The Swiss then defeated Arantxa Rus in straight sets, grabbing her second title in as many weeks, a return to the top-100 and also a place in the main draw of the Australian Open.

Low Points

Bencic had a terrible start to the year, going 0-3 in her first matches on the WTA tour. Her first official match was at the Sydney International although she participated at the Hopman Cup, where she went 2-1 in her singles matches. Facing Yulia Putintseva, the Swiss had to retire mid-match due to a broken nail which hindered her movement and footwork with the pain being too unbearable eventually.

Belinda Bencic in action at the Ladies Open Biel-Bienne, where she played her last tournament before going for surgery | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Belinda Bencic in action at the Ladies Open Biel-Bienne, where she played her last tournament before going for surgery | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The Swiss also had her luck to blame as she was drawn to face the legendary Serena Williams in the opening round of the Australian Open, where she was defending fourth-round points. Despite putting up a tough fight, Bencic fell in straight sets and the loss meant that she will fall out of the top-50 for the first time since 2014. Another disappointing loss soon ensued as she just fell short of good friend Daria Kasatkina for yet another first-round exit, this time at the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy where she was the defending finalist.

Bencic was slated to face top seed and Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel before she fell in a tight 5-7, 4-6 encounter. She then got totally outclassed by Kiki Bertens in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open, losing in just over an hour before another surprising defeat came in the hands of Sara Errani at the Miami Open.

Belinda Bencic in action during a 2-6, 2-6 loss to Kiki Bertens in Indian Wells | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Belinda Bencic in action during a 2-6, 2-6 loss to Kiki Bertens in Indian Wells | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The former top-10 player turned to ITF tournaments carrying the hope of regaining her form, but the decision did not make a difference as she continued to struggle against lower-ranked players, with a wrist injury starting to haunt her. After suffering a drubbing by Carina Witthoeft at the Ladies Open Biel-Bienne, Bencic opted to go for a surgery on her wrist and was sidelined for almost five months.

Since then, her comeback has been quite impressive and she did not experience any low points throughout that period. Claiming three titles (1 ITF, 2 WTA 125k), Bencic soon returned to the top-100.

Season Grade: B

Although her season was marred by injuries, Bencic’s comeback was incredible. She was able to breakthrough from ground zero and has definitely labeled herself as a player to watch in 2018. Furthermore, she would have only 74 points to defend within the first eight months of the year, and the Swiss will have many opportunities to rise in the rankings.

Belinda Bencic struggled with a broken nail at the Sydney International, where she eventually retired | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
Belinda Bencic struggled with a broken nail at the Sydney International, where she eventually retired | Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography