Kiki Bertens has won the biggest title of her career by beating Simona Halep 6-4 6-4 in the Madrid Open final and becoming the first woman ever to win the championship without dropping a set.
Making up for her loss in last year’s final to Petra Kvitova, the clay-court triumph on Saturday ensured the Dutchwoman Bertens will move to a career-best fourth in the world rankings.
“Last year was my first, like, big final,” Bertens said in comments reported on wtatennis.com.
“It was tough with the support, like, the crowd. It is like pretty noisy here, and then it was a really tough match against Petra. She played really well. I also played a really good match.
“It was really tough to lose that one. But today, I was going out there, like, confident, just playing my game, just being busy with that and with nothing else.
“And so I didn’t really feel the stress today. So I think, yeah, because of last year, that’s why I felt more ready to win it now.”
.@kikibertens captures the biggest title of her career defeating Simona Halep 6-4, 6-4!
— WTA (@WTA) May 11, 2019
Bertens came back from 4-2 down in the first set against French Open champion Halep by winning the next three games, striking the first blow in a gripping final full of drama which lasted one hour and 27 minutes.
Bertens, who hit four aces among her 25 winners in an excellent performance, got off to an ideal start in the opening game of the second by breaking Halep, who was playing in her fourth Madrid final after triumphs in 2016 and 2017.
The Romanian stayed in contention but was dealt a terrible dose of luck in the eighth game which handed more momentum to Bertens.
A shot from Bertens was heading way out and would have handed Halep two break points but the wayward ball struck the Romanian’s body, earning her opponent a fortuitous point that eventually led to her holding serve.
A few years back, with Dutch tennis in the doldrums, I asked a veteran Dutch writer where all the players were. He shook his head and said, "well there is one girl who has the talent but I'm not sure she has the head for it".
Just look at Kiki Bertens now
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 11, 2019
Bertens earned her first championship point with a scorching ace but Halep saved it with a drop volley at the net, only to then hand her rival another one by finding the net with a careless shot.
Bertens missed out again but earned a third championship point when Halep narrowly missed the baseline and she finally seized her ninth WTA title when the world number two hit a backhand out.
It was Bertens’ fourth victory over a Grand Slam winner during the week on her way to the title.
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