By Martin Parry ,AFP
MELBOURNE — Swiss teen Belinda Bencic has been thrust into the global spotlight at a young age, but she is adamant she can handle the pressure with her main focus on winning games and staying humble. The 18-year-old, coached by Melanie Molitor, mother of Martina Hingis, moved into the Australian Open third round on Friday, coming from a set down in a gritty 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 fightback over Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko. Since bursting onto the scene in her professional debut one week after her 14th birthday in 2011, she has raced through the rankings from 1,059 to world No. 14, winning tournaments in Eastbourne and Toronto last year. Such a stellar rise — which includes a win over world No. 1 Serena Williams last year — has brought not only fame but fortune, with nearly US$1.5 million in earnings so far. And Bencic’s star will shine even brighter if she can upset world No. 5 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round on Sunday. It has been a whirlwind few years for the teenager, but she plans to stay grounded and keep working on her tennis rather than her public image. “Of course it’s not easy, but I think when you’re a good junior and you have the success early, you kind of have to learn and you have to deal with it. You just take it as a normal thing,” she said, on dealing with the spotlight. “So I try to really stay on the ground, stay humble.
“I mean, just not do everything like in the press, but let your results on the court speak a lot for you. Just mainly focus on the tennis and not on how popular you are or trying to build up your image or something.”