US Open: Belinda Bencic shines under the roof; Rafael Nadal does a brief work of Marin Cilic

NEW YORK: Belinda Bencic he had faced world number 1 Naomi Osaka Twice this year The Swiss had lost a set in two meetings. The 22-year-old, seeded 13, looked United States Open Fourth round clash simply as one more game.

“I was focused on the game, not the hype or the occasion or the stadium,” Bencic said of her 7-5, 6-4 win that took her back to the United States Open quarterfinals after a gap of five years. “Afterwards it felt different, this (match) was the most important one,” she conceded.

On a day when the heavens opened and the roof turned into the stadiums Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong, he didn't care about the matter. They were mind games. Bencic, who had only 12 unforced errors in the game, said the stage was adapted to his playing style; chess in a tennis cut, tracing movements, creating openings. The controlled conditions of a covered arena offered by the closed roof allows the ball to work without the elements coming into play. “I adapt to my opponent. This is how I play. I don't have the greatest power, I don't have more winners or more aces, but I can read my opponent's game well, Bencic said. I was taking the ball early and anticipating well.

At 22 years of age, and only a few months older than Osaka, it feels like Bencic has been around forever. She first made the United States Open quarterfinals five years ago, on her debut, when Osaka hadn’t even made the qualifying field here. Injuries woes, however, punctuated her career. In the spring of 2017, her left wrist went under the knife, she was out of the sport for five months and her ranking dropped out of the 300-mark.

Bencic said: “All true athletes have to overcome obstacles, injuries, difficult times. It made me a stronger person, better player.

The Swiss, who has posted more top-5 and top-10 victories, 13 in all, than any other player on the WTA Tour this year, said her serve is her most improved shot. Her mindset, however, provides the knockout punch. “Everyone can play good tennis , it’s not about who can hit a better backhand or forehand,” she said. “It’s definitely about the mentality, how you go to the court, how you approach, if you have fear or if you’re playing freely...”

Osaka said Bencic's aggression, which led her to win 29 winners out of 24 of the Japanese, was the difference between the two players on the day.

I learned a lot during this tournament, said the 21-year-old. I wanted to defend this tournament, but I feel that the steps I have taken as a person have been much greater.

On Wednesday, Bencic will face a friend and sometimes practice with 23-seed Donna Vekic in quarters.

However, at the adjacent Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Croatian took her time to get to the big stage. At 23, Vekic made his first quarter-final important when he fought from the starting point to expel the experienced Julia Goerges 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-3 in another fourth round match.

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