2016 Aegon Classic

Bencic tumbles out of Birmingham

Swiss teenager may miss defence of Eastbourne

Belinda Bencic, beaten here in Birmingham’s Aegon Classic after retiring from her tie, could skip defending her Eastbourne crown.

The Swiss teenager, the youngest player in the world’s top 10, injured her thigh in the opening game against Irina-Camelia Begu following an unfortunate tumble on the damp grass court.

And having only returned to the WTA Tour 10 days ago, after a two-month back injury lay-off, the 19-year-old is focused on being fully fit for Wimbledon.

She was trailing 6-4 4-3 to the live-wire Romania when she conceded defeat in the aim of being fit enough for next week’s Aegon International at Devonshire Park.

Bencic, who tasted a shock semi-final defeat to France’s Kristina Mladenovic – her close friend on Tour – at the Ricoh Open in Holland last Saturday, had looked wayward and lacked match fitness in her first tournament back.

And she was no better at the Edgbaston Priory Club, although she was hampered by a fall in the first game against world #26 Begu.

She bravely battled on, not calling upon her trainer until the fifth game having entertained the fans at the rain-affected tournament with some sensational shots but dodgy footwork.

Bencic’s retirement means that she will have to consider – through her advisers – whether a visit to the coveted competition at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park is going to pay dividends.

She has points to defend on the circuit, but there is – as usual – an exceptionally strong field and she cannot jeopardise her fitness because her priority needs to be competing at Wimbledon.

Bencic admitted: “I continued playing more than I should have.”

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