Belinda Bencic ready to set sail in Hobart

7 January 2019, by Leigh Rogers

Newly-crowned Mastercard Hopman Cup champion Belinda Bencic has arrived in Hobart.

The 21-year-old is set to make her Hobart International debut this week – but first, took the opportunity to explore Tasmania.

“It’s very beautiful. I feel very welcome here and I can’t wait to see more,” Bencic told media before touring the Hobart harbour on an iconic Pennicott Wilderness Journey.

“Unfortunately as a tennis player it is never easy, because when you are playing you have to focus. There’s not much time to do (off-court) things. That’s why I’m really excited about this kind of opportunity.”

Not even the swirling seas could wipe the smile off the world No.55’s face – who is still glowing after her Mastercard Hopman Cup triumph alongside Roger Federer.

“It was amazing. I love to play the Hopman Cup. It is such a good event to get some matches and to get going into the new season. It was amazing to win it again this year as well,” she said.

In retaining Switzerland’s title, Bencic and Federer created history as the first duo to defend a title in the event’s 31-year history.

Bencic described the opportunity to play alongside the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion as special.

“Since I started playing tennis he was my idol,” she said. “It’s been amazing playing with him, learning from him on and off the court is such a good experience for me.”

Bencic’s sights are now on a Hobart International first-round battle with Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, the tournament’s second seed and last year’s finalist.

“It’s a tough draw, but I think in women’s tennis that anybody can beat anybody,” Bencic said.

“We’ll see how it goes.”

Although the match will be Bencic’s tournament debut, it is not the first time she has competed at the Domain Tennis Centre.

She has fond memories of her first visit in 2014, when as a 16-year-old world No.1-ranked junior she played an exhibition match against her mentor and former world No.1 Martina Hingis.

“(I remember that) it was such a nice event,” she said.

“I need some practice before the Australian Open, to get some matches in and I knew this was a lovely city and a great event, so I am very happy to come here.”

Keen to see Bencic in action this week? Buy #HobartTennis tickets now.