EASTBOURNE, England — Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic won her first title by beating Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 in the Eastbourne final on Saturday, enhancing her burgeoning reputation ahead of Wimbledon.
The 18-year-old Bencic won on grass in windy conditions on the south coast to deny the ninth-seeded Radwanska a second title at Eastbourne, after 2008.
Watched by compatriot and mentor Martina Hingis, Bencic covered her face in her hands after driving a forehand winner past Radwanska on the first match point to end a third set that lasted just 24 minutes.
"It’s one of the biggest days of my life. It’s a dream come true," a beaming Bencic said at the trophy presentation, before addressing the impact of Hingis.
"She helped me, not just this week. Her and her mum, they taught me everything."
Bencic, ranked 31st, won the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon in 2013, and previously lost two WTA finals, including one on grass at ‘s-Hertogenbosch this month.
She showed great variety and subtlety with her clean groundstrokes on Saturday, handling the blustery conditions better except for a period in the second set when she became frustrated and called for her coach.
Radwanska, the 2008 champion, failed to build on winning the second set, and was outplayed in the third.
"I tried my best but she was better than me," said the 2012 Wimbledon runner-up, who was attempting to win the same tournament twice for the first time in her career.
The WTA says Bencic, at 18 years and 109 days, is the youngest player to win a top-level title since Caroline Wozniacki won her first title at New Haven in 2008 at 18 years and 43 days.
Wimbledon starts on Monday.<