But nobody would have predicted this.
She could go as far as No 12 if she wins the title facing Simona Halep on Sunday.
This is a slam-bam shocker, a rift cracking open, zig-zagging across the tennis landscape. Williams was able to strike back but with the consistency of Bencic’s offense, she staved off the American from overtaking the set and held herself ahead after five games.
The world No. 1 suffered a rare defeat at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She picked up the new racquet, saved a break point and slide a serve victor for a fourth match point.
“I was exhausted”, she said. “She is home”.
It’s a bit of a rarity in Toronto for a non-Canadian to get that kind of overwhelming support, but it’s par for the course for Halep who seems to get it wherever she plays whether it’s Europe, North America or anywhere else in the world.
Again, I’m not quite sure what she did, but it worked. It wasn’t my day. “I was very overwhelmed from the situation on the court, but I’m just so happy the (winning) forehand landed in and she couldn’t reach it anymore”. “I’ll try to be politically correct”. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed.
“At the beginning I could not move my legs. Everything was off, my toss was off”.
Bencic was asked what she would have said if someone told her a week earlier that she’d beat all those players.
When a reporter noticed a finger on her left hand was taped up, she revealed that she had sprained it during her quarter-final match against Roberta Vinci when she slipped running for a drop shot. “I can play with swollen fingers”. “I feel more confident now”.
“Well, I think I played really crappy today”.
Bencic’s own head was spinning. I always felt I still had an opportunity to stay in there.
With just two wins to go, Bencic knew what she had to do.
The reality is Williams’ upcoming mission is a distraction that weighs heavily on her. She has vowed to not talk about this quest for the gold-standard Grand Slam, but she has talked about it in code ever since she won Wimbledon.
Straight outta Compton. Except – not really. Justine Henin was one of them. “It was a great generation”.
That allowed Bencic to become noticeably more aggressive on Williams’ second serve and helped change the dynamics of a match thought to be a warm-up for Serena for tomorrow’s final against Simona Halep.
Notes: Former WTA star Justine Henin – a two-time Rogers Cup champion – was inducted in the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame on Saturday evening…. She remains in awe of the woman but never in thrall.
Williams was broken seven times in the match on 19 attempts. Sometimes you take the power from the crowd and today helped me a lot.
“I still think I have a tremendous amount of improvement to do off the ground and everywhere else”. “Overall it was well fought”, Serena said. “First, you have to believe that you can do it”.
Bencic didn’t quit despite her opponent’s renewed focus.
Despite losing the first set 0-6, Halep managed to win the subsequent sets 6-3, 6-1 to claim what was also her 300th career victory. “In the end it was just so loud and I didn’t think anything”. “I had a little bit of pressure”.