IMAGE: Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic celebrates after winning her match against Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic to win the women’s singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters
World number 12 Belinda Bencic dug deep to overpower the Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 on Saturday and win the Tokyo Games women’s singles title, becoming the first Swiss woman to earn an Olympics tennis gold.
The 24-year-old Bencic, who prevailed in two hours and 30 minutes, can now complete a set of gold medals when she and Viktorija Golubic face Czech No. 1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the doubles final on Sunday.
Bencic is also the first Swiss to win a singles gold since Marc Rosset won the men’s Olympic final in 1992, and could become just the fourth woman in history to claim the title as well as victory in the doubles.
Saturday’s final began with a nervy battle as both players struggled to hold their serve before Bencic finally edged the 42nd-ranked Czech to take the first set.
Vondrousova went up a gear in the second, going up a double break to force the match into a decider.
Bencic took a medical timeout for a toe blister while leading 4-3 in the final set, but returned to break the Czech and serve out the victory, collapsing to the court in joy when Vondrousova sent a backhand return long.
Her loss ends a dream Olympic run for the 22-year-old, who took down home favourite and world number two Naomi Osaka in the third round before powering into the championship match over eventual bronze medallist Elina Svitolina.