As a young girl, Belinda Bencic’s bedroom walls were adorned with posters of Swiss greats Roger Federer and her idol Martina Hingis.
Identified as a childhood prodigy herself, the connections with Hingis began at an early age. At four, she was being coached by Hingis’s mother, Melanie Molitor, and last year became the first Swiss since her idol to win the Girls’ Singles at Wimbledon.
On Wednesday, the now 17-year-old squared off against the former Swiss prodigy, albeit in a mixed doubles match. Molitor would have to stay neutral on this one.
Teaming with a South American Soares – not of the biting variety – Hingis and Brazilian Bruno Soares held off the unseeded pairing of Slovak Martin Klizan and Bencic to reach the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 5-7, 9-7 win.
All four started the match strongly with Bencic the first to falter at 3-3. A double fault against Hingis handed her opponents three break points. They would take it on second offering for 4-3.
Soares served out the opening set 6-3 to love with an ace and an angled backhand volley winner.
While Hingis claimed bragging rights in the match-winning stakes, Bencic at least came out on top in the best exchange of the match, running down Hingis’s angled drop volley crosscourt to roll a winner past her idol, with a cheeky grin fired her way at 3-4 in the second.
She again left her vastly more experienced countrywoman stranded when she teed off on Soares’s wide serve to crack a forehand winner down the line. This time she took a cheeky bow before the crowd.
Hingis would have the final laugh though, serving out the match after two hours and six minutes.
In other mixed doubles matches Australian Chris Guccione and Georgian Oksana Kalashnikova lost to No.14 seeds Max Mirnyi, of Belarus and Taiwan’s Hao-Ching Chan 6-2, 7-6(4), while Brit Jamie Murray and Australian Casey Dellacqua put out Dutchman Jessie Huta Galung and Slovenian Andrea Klepac 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 6-4.
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