TENNIS

Bencic becomes first teenager in WTA top 10 since 2009

The 18-year-old Swiss sensation rose to number nine in the world on Monday after reaching the St Petersburg final last week.

Bencic becomes first teenager in WTA top 10 since 2009
Jens Meyer AP

Switzerland's Belinda Bencic became the first teenager in seven years to reach the top 10 of the WTA rankings after she climbed to ninth in the world on Monday.

A run to the final at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy ensured that Bencic, 18, became the first woman aged under 20 to enter the top 10 since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.

"As a small kid, everyone is dreaming to one day become top 10," Bencic, who won two titles in 2015, said in a statement. "I now realise that all the hard work paid off. Until now, I didn't know if I would make it. But this is an amazing moment for me and just... my dream. My goal is reached."

A sport that was once the domain of teenage champions, with players such as Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario and Martina Hingis winning grand slam titles before turning 20, has seen a shift in recent years.

Maria Sharapova's triumph at the 2006 U.S. Open was the last time a teenaged player won a grand slam, while last year's four majors were all won by 30-something women as Serena Williams and Flavia Pennetta walked away with the spoils.