Jabeur downs Bencic to take Charleston Open

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur won the championship rematch with Belinda Bencic at the Charleston Open on Sunday 7-6 (6), 6-4 for her third career WTA title.

Jabeur, seeded second in the season’s first clay-court event, defeated the fourth-seeded Bencic of Switzerland, who had won the event title a year ago in three sets and started strongly in seeking a second straight trophy.

Jabeur turned things around while trailing 5-3 in the opening set, a rally that included a between-the-legs return and saving two set points to win the tiebreak.

Jabeur broke Bencic’s serve three times in the final set. When Bencic hit her service return wide, Jabeur raised her arms in triumph for her first victory in the U.S.

“I wish every tournament is like this, really [mean that] from the heart,” Jabeur said in accepting the trophy. “Really amazing tournament and I hope I can come back.”

When she does, it’ll be as defending champion.

Bencic advanced to the second straight final about 30 minutes before it began, finishing off a straight set victory over No. 1 seed Jessica Pegula by winning the final five points of a tiebreaker.

Jabeur looked like the one who might’ve needed more rest early on. She lost her serve in the opening game of the finals and struggled to figure out Bencic’s serves.

It changed for good with her miraculous return, down 5-4, on a ball Bencic hit from the net right at her opponent. Jabeur jumped with legs apart and the racket behind and down between them to get the ball back over the net.

Bencic held two set points in the tiebreaker that Jabeur fought off. Bencic watched Jabeur’s ball hit the line and threw her racket. Jabeur’s hit another sideline on set point that Bencic thought was out, but the chair umpire ruled in it as Bencic pleaded her case to no avail.

Jabeur took a 4-1 lead in the second set and held on for her first title since winning on grass in Berlin last June, also defeating Bencic.

The defeat ended Bencic’s 10-match win streak on Charleston’s green clay.

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