Finals preview: Bencic and Jabeur to battle for Charleston Open crown
Belinda Bencic is into her first clay final. Ons Jabeur is looking for the biggest title of her career. They meet Sunday.
What’s in a week of tennis?
This week the Credit One Charleston Open has reminded us that over nine days, two weekends and thousands of points played that what we love is within the game, the sport we all gather around.
With fans back on the grounds on Daniel Island, this tournament has been a celebration of that.
Sunday two of the sport’s most engaging and fan-favorite stars take to Credit One Stadium to battle for the 2022 title in what has been a special edition of this event, celebrating 50 years of women’s tennis in South Carolina.
It’s clear the love for tennis is pure for both Belinda Bencic, the Olympic champion, and Ons Jabeur, the trailblazing Tunisian who is ranked No. 10 in the world.
A title here would be a sixth for Bencic, who made the semifinals here in 2014 as a teenager. And it would be a second – and biggest – for Jabeur, who said it would “mean so much” to her to win it.
“I’m going for every title I can,” said Jabeur, 27. “I know the [WTA] 500 level is one of the greatest titles I can win, but I’m aiming for more, aiming for bigger. Hopefully this title… would be the great start for many other titles, big ones.”
The match will be a clash of styles: Jabeur plays with craft and slice, using every angle of the court and content to confound her foes. Bencic, who spent the early part of her career being trained by Martina Hingis’ mother, Melanie Molitor, has power, depth and a disguise on her shots that makes it hard for her opponent to read.
Bencic says what has improved the most in the eight years since she made the semis as a teen is her serve – and her mentality.
“I feel like I’ve always enjoyed the pressure moments [and] I think the experience helps,” Bencic explained. “But, also yes, my forehand – and my serve.”
Those two shots will be important against Ons, and while Bencic won their only previous meeting on tour last year in Madrid, Jabeur was forced to retire mid-match.
The doubles final kicks off the day and has its own great storylines, including that of two-time champion and former world No. 1 Sania Mirza, who has returned to tour after giving birth to her son, Izhaan. She and partner Lucie Hradecka, a two-time runner-up here, meet Andreja Klepac and Magda Linette.
What’s in a week of tennis? Plenty – and today we find new champions, too.