Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving notice at US Open
Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
With her 17 Grand Slam singles titles and counting, Serena Williams continues to lord over younger female tennis players from America and around the globe.
But the time will come when the 33-year-old Williams will give way to a younger generation of players, some of whom broke through and made headlines at this year's U.S. Open.
Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals to 28-year-old Chinese Peng Shuai, 6-2, 6-1.
Alexsandra Krunic, a 21-year-old Serb who took out Wimbledon champ and No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova in the third round, pushed two-time Open finalist Victoria Azarenka to three sets Monday night before falling in the fourth round.
And 15-year-old American CiCi Bellis was the talk of the tournament's first week when she stunned No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round. Bellis ended up losing her next match and on Tuesday, as the No. 1 seed in the girls juniors, she was upset in the second round.
"There is some breakthroughs in the women's tennis," said former world No. 1 Martina Hingis of Switzerland, here playing doubles. "Definitely there are some youngsters that are coming up."
Hingis knows a thing or two about being a teenage star. In 1997, at the age of 16, she won three of the four Grand Slam singles titles. Back then, she was a major rival for the young and braided Serena and Venus Williams.
Now 33 and retired from singles, Hingis is enjoying doubles and watching the younger generation of female stars.
Bencic is coached by Hingis's mother, Melanie Molitor, and Hingis herself sat in Bencic's player box and rooted her on.
But Shuai was just too much and the Cinderella story came to an end. Shuai has yielded just 33 total games through five matches while reaching her first career Grand Slam semifinal.
"For sure it's been a great tournament for me," Bencic said. "I think today I really didn't play my best, but I can take definitely so much positive out of this tournament. I will work very hard so that I can be in a lot more quarterfinals."
Earlier in the tournament, Hingis said she believed Bencic could ascend from her current No. 58 ranking to enter the Top 10.
"I think there is huge potential for her," Hingis said. "I definitely think she can be Top 5. She's on the way to get there. How far, it's up to her."
As for the American Bellis, Hingis said she can play pressure-free tennis at this stage because she's so young, even though her fame grew exponentially in the last 10 days.
"You see the American fans came out there and root for her," Hingis said of Bellis. "There is so much less pressure on her, because she can come here every year for the next maybe, you know, 10, 15 years. There is no pressure today or tomorrow."
For now, the pressure rests squarely on Serena's shoulders. And the two-time champ has no plans to hand over the keys to her kingdom.
"Obviously, I don't want this to be the end," Serena said.
Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria for coverage throughout the U.S. Open.