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Bencic tops Badosa to reach Charleston semifinals

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (AP) – Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-seeded Paula Badosa 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Credit One Charleston Open.

Number four Ons Jabeur also reached the final four in the season’s opening clay-court event, beating Anhelina Kalinina 6-3, 6-2. Also on to the semis were Ekaterina Alexandrova, a 6-0, 6-2 winner over Magda Linette and 15th-seeded Amanda Anisimova, who defeated United States countrywoman CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2.

Badosa, of Spain, was up a set and 4-2 in the second when Bencic, of Switzerland, found her rhythm. Bencic took a 5-4 lead and held on to force the tiebreaker. She took control there, winning five of the final six points to tie up the match.

The final set was tied at 4-all when Bencic, who won Olympic gold in singles at Tokyo last summer, took control for good. She hit a service winner to set up match point then celebrated when Babosa’s final shot went into the net. It was Bencic’s first win over the world’s third-ranked player in four tries.

“I felt very uncomfortable the first set and half,” Bencic, who is ranked 21st­, said.

“I was just trying to hang on to my service games with the wind. I felt like I needed to get my game together and make it harder for her.”

Belinda Bencic at the Charleston Open tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. PHOTO: AP

It’s the second trip to the semifinals here Bencic, the 10th seed. The first came in her initial appearance at the season’s opening clay-court tournament in 2014. Bencic will play Alexandrova.

Alexandrova, who’s lost just one set in four matches, knew Linette had played a pair of three-setters on Thursday as the event got back on schedule after weather delays earlier in the week.

“I think she finished like super late, and for her it would be extremely tough to play today,” Alexandrova said.

Alexandrova won the first set in 24 minutes and kept up the pressure to reach her first-ever WTA clay-court semifinal. Jabeur, of Tunisia, had little trouble advancing into the semis for the second straight year.

She actually had two strong weeks in Charleston in 2021 with her semifinal run at this tournament, then a trip to the finals a week later at a second clay-court event where she was beaten by Australian Astra Sharma in three sets.

Jabeur appears just as comfortable and confident this time around. She hasn’t lost a set in three matches here, winning all of them by 6-3, 6-2 scores.

Jabeur will face the 20-year-old Anisimova for the first time.