SUMMERLIN, November 12, 2018 (by Steve Pratt)
Top-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland captured the 10th Annual Red Rock Pro Open singles title on Sunday with a, 7-5, 6-1, victory over Southern Californian Nicole Gibbs in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Red Rock Country Club.
Bencic, who will have her 8 x 10 photo added to the club pro shop’s Wall of Champions, just last month reunited with her father as her lead coach, and Ivan Bencic looked on proudly as Bencic pocketed $12,161 for the win in the USTA Pro Circuit $80,000 tournament. Gibbs takes home $6,487.
Both players will next head to Houston for the season’s final tournament, a WTA $125,000-level event.
“I really enjoyed playing in Las Vegas and the crowds were so great all week,” Bencic said.
In the doubles final, Las Vegas’ Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez improved their record to 21-1 on the year as they beat fellow American’s Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller, 6-3, 6-4, to win the doubles title. While longtime partners Chang and Mueller end their year, Muhammad and Sanchez will look to end their year on a high note in Houston.
Gibbs certainly had her chances in the fourth set, but a lapse at the end of the first set led to losing nine points in a row. “I’d give myself a 2 out of 10,” Gibbs said in rating herself. “I played terrible.”
Bencic broke first to take a 3-1 lead, but Gibbs was able to get the break back and then at 4-all broke Bencic’s serve at love to serve for the set. Gibbs fell behind 0-30 on her serve and then double faulted for love-40 and lost the game at love for 5-all. She then preceded to lose the 11thgame at love as Bencic got back on serve for 6-5.
Bencic held four set points before Gibbs hit a forehand that clipped the top of the net, came down and hit the net again before falling on Gibbs’ side ending the first set.
Bencic double faulted twice to give Gibbs the opening game of the second set, but then was able to turn up her game and cruise to the victory.
“I didn’t play my best today,” Gibbs said. “She was able to do some things to disrupt my momentum and change the pace and I wasn’t able to make the adjustments quickly enough.”
Gibbs recalled playing at the first Red Rock Pro Open as a 16-year-old junior back in 2009. She made it to the final round of qualifying in the inaugural event losing to Gabriela Paz of Venezuela. “I remember I had a three-hour match with my future Stanford teammate Kristie Ahn and won 7-6 in the third in the first round,” she said.
30th Pro doubles title for Muhammad
Muhammad, who reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2016 US Open, has now won 30 career pro doubles titles, three coming on the WTA Tour and 27 now on the USTA Pro Circuit. She learned to play tennis at the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club in Las Vegas. Sanchez won her 21st doubles title on the USTA Pro Circuit.
Muhammad was the crowd favorite all week and said she enjoys coming back to play her local event each year. “We travel all over the world and see some amazing things, but to come back here and play in front of so many familiar faces is special,” she said.
Tournament director Mike Copenhaver said this was an historic year for the Red Rock Pro Open. “With it being the 10th anniversary, and part of the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, marquee night matches and our matches televised all week by Tennis Channel, it’s one that was written for the record books!”