Bencic unfazed by Australian Open hype

MELBOURNE : Belinda Bencic’s form in the build-up to the Australian Open has led to talk of a potential title charge, but the Olympic champion said she is ignoring the hype after claiming a 7-6(3) 6-3 win over American Claire Liu on Thursday.

Bencic entered the Australian Open on the back of winning her seventh career title, after beating Daria Kasatkina in the final of the Adelaide tune-up tournament earlier this month.

The 12th-seeded Swiss then beat Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova in her opening match at Melbourne Park, before claiming a second-round victory over Liu on Thursday despite being 5-2 down at one point in the first set.

When asked about how her win in Adelaide had affected her Australian Open campaign, Bencic told reporters: “I’m happy with the title, for sure, and just with the good results.

“But still, you come to a Grand Slam, it starts from zero. It doesn’t help me any more I won Adelaide. Congrats to me, but now what? I’m trying to fight through every match here as well and go as far as possible.”

Bencic added that it was tough to completely block out all speculation about her title chances.

“I’m thinking, who are these people? Are they me when I’m playing on the court? Do they know how I feel, sleep, wake up, how I eat, how my body feels? You never know what’s really going on,” Bencic said.

“Of course you can feel maybe more attention or more hype, but it’s for everyone. I feel like last year Madison Keys won Adelaide, then suddenly she was the favourite to win. It’s like every tournament is different.

“People are so quick to shift to, ‘This one is in form, this one and this one’. It’s not helping me on the court, so why should I think about it?”

Bencic will next face Italy’s Camila Giorgi on Saturday.

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