Bencic beats Rybakina to reach Olympics tennis final

·2-min read
Switzerland's Belinda Bencic celebrates after defeating Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina to reach the women's final at the Tokyo Games

Switzerland's Belinda Bencic came through a marathon match against Kazakh player Elena Rybakina on Thursday to reach the women's tennis final at the Olympics and keep her bid for double gold alive.

The 24-year-old saved five set points in a 73-minute opening set before winning 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-3 after almost two-and-three-quarter hours in the searing Tokyo heat.

Bencic, who has also reached the women's doubles final alongside Viktorija Golubic, will face Marketa Vondrousova in the singles showpiece.

The ninth seed is only the fifth player to reach finals in both singles and doubles at a summer Games since tennis was reintroduced to the Olympics in 1988.

Three of the previous four -- Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Nicolas Massu -- have gone on to win two titles, with Andy Murray the only exception when he lost the mixed doubles final in 2012 with Laura Robson.

"To have a medal, it's the greatest thing. Even to be here as an athlete, in the Olympics, it's amazing," said Bencic, who could become the first Swiss woman to claim singles gold.

"I don't feel pressure right now. I just feel joy to have a medal."

Thursday's programme began at 3:00 pm (0600 GMT) local time, after organisers pushed the start time back from 11:00 am following complaints from players about the hot conditions.

But it was still brutal for Bencic and Rybakina first up on centre court.

Bencic will have a day off before Saturday's singles final against Vondrousova, who beat Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1, with the doubles final on Sunday.

She and Golubic will take on three-time Grand Slam doubles champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, after seeing off Brazilian pair Laura Pigossi and Luisa Stefani 7-5, 6-3 in the semis.

jc/mw

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