Bencic meets Serena in the rematch in Toronto

TORONTO — Serena Williams meets No. 12 Belinda Bencic in the second round of the National Bank Open Wednesday night. A day after Williams claimed her first-round victoryBencic opened their tournament with a 6-5, 6-1 win over Czech Tereza Martincova.

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Three things you should know about the upcoming Bencic-Williams showdown.

They are both former champions

Williams is a three-time champion, having won in 2001 (d. Capriati), 2011 (d. Stosur), and 2012 (d. Cirstea). In her last appearance in Toronto, Williams reached the final in 2019. The last time Williams lost before the semifinals in Toronto was in 2005. She has made it to the semifinals or better in her last six appearances.

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Bencic, last summer’s Olympic champion, is competing in Toronto for the third time. As an 18-year-old, the Swiss won the biggest Hologic WTA Tour title of her career in Toronto in 2015. Placed at No. 20, she had four top 10 wins that week – including three top 5 wins – and defeated Simona Halep by elimination in the final.

This is a re-imagining of a memorable moment in Toronto

Williams leads the neck-and-neck race 2-1 with Bencic, but the 25-year-old clinched her only win right here in Toronto. En route to her 2015 title run, Bencic beat Williams, winning in the semifinals 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Williams fired 64 winners over the course of their 2-hour, 28-minute duel, but she also made 59 unforced errors .

It was only the second loss of the season for Williams, who was in the midst of the best year of her career after winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

“I’m super excited, I couldn’t be more excited,” Bencic told WTA Insider. “When I saw the draw I was hoping she would win her first round and I would win my first round and it would happen. It’s super inspiring to see them. I have read [her essay] in Vogue today. It was so beautifully written and so honest. Now that it’s almost over, you realize even more how great she is and what she has achieved. It’s indescribable.”

Both players are looking for some momentum

Williams’ win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz in the first round was her first singles win since the 2021 French Open, which was also the last time she had back-to-back wins. With her Vogue essay spotlighting the ongoing US Open Seriesmore wins mean more games for Williams, which she professes she needs.

Bencic is trying to regain the momentum she seemed to have built up during the grass season when she reached the Berlin final but retired with a foot injury. She hasn’t defeated a top 70 player since her injury, with the No. 71 Martincova being her best win since.

“Physically I feel good,” said Bencic. “Tennis-wise it’s up and down. But you have to work hard to gain momentum, play games, fight your way through games when you’re not playing well, to get another game so you can improve. Hopefully Can I get into the rhythm and play my best at the US Open?”

The winner will face either No. 8 seed Garbiñe Muguruza or Washington DC finalist Kaia Kanepi in the round of 16.

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2022 Toronto

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