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Switzerland's Belinda Bencic battles back to defeat Kazakhstan's Rybakina in semis

Switzerland's Belinda Bencic battles back to defeat Kazakhstan's Rybakina in semis
Posted at 4:15 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 05:24:45-04

BOX SCORE

Break points, long rallies, and grueling comebacks defined a rollercoaster of a match between Switzerland's No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic and Kazakhstan's No. 15 seed Elena Rybakina

But ultimately, Bencic guaranteed herself an Olympic medal in Tokyo by winning a tumultuous semifinal. Victory secured, she fell to her knees and wiped away tears -- nearly three hours after taking to Centre Court.

Bencic started the match down several games, but fought off six set points to take the 73-minute (!) opener 7-6(2) against her Kazakh opponent in a tiebreak. 

The second set saw each athlete fight hard for every single point. Bencic started strong and maintained focus, but at times slipped into sloppy errors. Rybakina's five aces in that set alone helped her squeak past Bencic and even the score.  

The athletes went back and forth, back and forth in set number three. Bencic broke serve on 60% of opportunities given, and across an additional 50 minutes, shut down her opponent.

Final score: 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3. 

"It's really like a dream," Bencic said in a post-match interview. "Of course I had emotions up and down, up and down. But in the end, I did it." 

The last Swiss player to win a tennis medal in singles was Roger Federer at the 2012 London Olympics, who fell to Great Britain's Andy Murray in the gold medal match. Almost a decade later, Bencic has another shot to claim singles gold for her country.