Belinda Bencic, the exciting Swiss protégé who stunned everyone the other side of the net at the 2015 Aegon International, has had a torrid time since her magnificent Eastbourne triumph.
The teenager, who was seen clutching her trophy and skipping through the centre of the sleepy seaside resort a few hours after her exhilarating display in the final over former world #2 Agnieszka Radwanska, may have climbed into the world’s top 10 but she has struggled to live up to her glory days of last June.
In fact, earlier this year Bencic became one of the youngest players to make her debut into the WTA’s Top 10, but she has pushed herself and is now paying the price by sitting out the next month injured.
Bencic was clearly injured during her last WTA Tour tournament in Charleston, swept aside by former Eastbourne champion Elena Vestina of Russia, prior to announcing earlier this month that her back injury would keep her away from the circuit for at least four weeks.
And for Bencic it meant having to skip playing for the Swiss Fed Cup team for the semi-final showdown with the Czech Republic, the defending champions.
Martina Hingis, whose mother is the coach of her compatriot Bencic, has spoken out about the teenager needing to start putting her body first on the WTA Tour.
The 35-year-old, a former world #1 who retired from Singles because of foot injuries, aid:
“At some point your body says: ‘OK, you have to put me before tennis’.
“Instead of always playing tournaments, she should have practiced. As a tennis player you have to know that you do not only have to play well or in a smart way.”
Bencic has taken over the nickname of ‘Swiss Miss’ afforded Hingis at her peak, yet she has lost five of her past six matches.
And Bencic has just one victory over a fellow top 10 rival this campaign, seeing off Eastbourne regular Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Fed Cup.
Yet Bencic’s year peaked early, reaching the semi-finals in Sydney then following it up with a run to the last 16 at the Australian Open before finishing runner-up to Italian Roberta Vinci at the inaugural St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy In February.
But Bencic appears to have lost her zest for winning since settling for second best in Russia. The 19-year-old collected just one success from her next five matches that included opening round reversals in Dubai and Doha as well as retiring in her first match at the Miami Open because of a lower back problem.
The four-week enforced break could be just the tonic that Bencic needs to come back fighting fit and back on track to climb higher up the world’s top 10 and prove herself not only at Eastbourne’s Aegon International but also at Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics.