TORONTO, Canada: World number one Serena Williams was sent crashing out of the WTA Rogers Cup after being upset by Swiss teen Belinda Bencic in a three-set marathon semifinal on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
The 33-year-old Williams, a 21 Grand Slam winner, suffered just her second loss of 2015 as the oldest and youngest players in the draw clashed in a tense two-hour, 28-minute showdown.
Bencic, 18, stormed from behind to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-4, snapping Williams’ 14-match win streak in Toronto to book her spot in Sunday’s final against second seed Simona Halep.
Bencic closed out the contest on her first match point by smashing a forehand winner to the open court. Bencic bent over and covered her face with both hands as she soaked in the biggest victory of her blossoming career.
“I can’t describe the feeling right now,” said Bencic.
“I was very overwhelmed from the situation on the court, but I’m just so happy the forehand landed in and she couldn’t reach it anymore.
“It was an incredible feeling. I have no words.”
Bencic is the youngest player to beat Williams in a complete match since the American lost to a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova in the final at Wimbledon in 2004. Bencic, who also has Slovak citizenship through her parents, was just two years old in 1999 when Williams won her first major title.
“I think I played really crappy today,” Williams said. “I played like an amateur to be honest.”
Bencic has won 20 of her last 24 matches, beating two top 10 ranked players (No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 6 Ana Ivanovic) to reach the semis.
The loss casts some doubt into Williams’ pursuit of her fifth Grand Slam title in a row as she attempts to complete a calendar year Grand Slam by defending her title at the US Open, which begins August 31.
A US Open crown would give her 22 Grand Slams, matching Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era.
She pulled out of the Stanford tournament last week with an elbow injury but said after her quarterfinal victory in Toronto that it was no longer a problem.