It took just 67 minutes for Kiki Bertens to book her place in the Madrid Open final with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 victory over 7th seed Caroline Garcia of France.
Kiki Bertens (zimbio.com)
It has been a breakthrough week for the 26 year old Dutch player, ranked 20, having already beaten world No.2 Caroline Wozniacki. Today, she was simply more solid off the ground against an erratic Garcia and took full advantage of the opportunities presented to her.
Bertens broke the Garcia serve in the third game of the opening set on her third break point when the French woman sent her two handed backhand drive wide, and achieved a double break insurance to go 5-2 ahead when her opponent sprayed her forehand wide. She closed out the set on serve in the next game with ease when Garcia’s tame forehand drop shot attempt found the net.
With the 31 minute opening set under her belt, the Dutch woman never relinquished her dominance. She broke Garcia in the third game and again in the fifth game of the second set to sail to victory and a chance to win the Madrid Open title.
“I’m really happy with the way I played, I think maybe it was not great tennis that people want to see with a lot of winners”, Bertens said. “But Caroline is a great player and she likes when the ball comes up to the hips, and I was trying to play as many different balls as I could, and I think I did that pretty well.”
Bertens said her win against the more aggressive ball striker Maria Sharapova in the previous round aided her against Garcia today
“I think that helped me a lot. I was struggling a lot in the first set yesterday and I was trying to change my game and that helped me today from the beginning. I was trying to put in the heavier ball, some slices, just grinding out there and trying to put as many balls as possible back into the court and that’s what I did really well today.”
Looking ahead to the final tomorow against either Petra Kvitova or Karolina Pliskova, Bertens knows that she is going in as the underdog against either Czech player.
“Well I think it’s still 50/50 chance”, she said laughing. “I’m in the final tomorrow but it’s going to be really, really tough. They are both great players; I’m going to watch the match tonight and I’m going to go out there tomorrow and try to play my game again and we will see tomorrow night.”
“Both are tough players I must say and for me it doesn’t matter. I’m just really happy to be in this final and whoever it’s going to be, we are going to make a good game plan and hopefully I can play a good match tomorrow.”
“Right before this match I was really nervous, another opportunity. Every day I’m trying the best I can and that also keeps me calm. After the first set I calmed down a bit, and I really liked that today, and right now I’m really happy. Happy about my performance all week and I’m just trying to go out there tomorrow and do the same and then we will see. But right now I’m just enjoying it.”
Garcia said she came into the match with a game plan, but ultimately she was unable to execute it effectively.
“I tried to be more aggressive and focus more on her backhand, but she played very well and used the high ball very well and I couldn’t do anything today about it, I tried different things but it didn’t work”, Garcia said. “Of course I’m frustrated, my performance today was not great. But, I mean, she had her game plan and it worked well.”
“I had my game plan, but it was not working in the beginning. She was feeling the ball well and doing her high ball very well. Sometimes when I had the opportunity and was doing better in the rallies, she was just doing these high balls and it was like years ago in the juniors.”
Despite having played a good tournament to reach the last 4, Garcia, ranked 7, could not take any positives from it after her below par display.
“For now I don’t see a lot of positives, I’m just really disappointed about my performance and right now it’s difficult”, she said.
Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins First Title Since Return From Surgery In Washington
The two-time grand slam champion has returned back to the winners circle following her six-month absence due to injury.
Former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points to defeat Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.
Kuznetsova, 33, fought back against the aggressive play of her opponent. Saving seven out of the 10 break points she faced in the match. Eventually, it was the experience of the Russian that guided her to the finish line as she hit 34 winners to 36 unforced errors to win her first title on the tour since the 2016 Moscow Open.
“It was a difficult week,” Kuznetsova reflected afterwards. “Tennis is always mental, if you lose or if you win, you always gotta stay focused.”
With both players contesting their first final of the season, it was Vekic who battled through what was a roller-coaster and tense opening set. At first, the seventh seed appeared on course to clinch the opener with ease after breaking Kuznetsova in the fourth game as she raced out to a 4-1 lead. Only to be pegged by the 2014 champion. Serving for the set at 5-3, a forehand error rewarded Kuznetsova the chance to break back. Prior to the following point, the Russian complained about the movement of the crowd just as Vekic was about to serve. Then the Croat hit a double fault with the two players exchanging words at the changeover.
Despite feeling hard done by, Vekic soon restored order in the match. As Kuznetsova served for a chance to level 5-5, she pounced one again as the former world No.2 faltered. Recovering from a 15-40 deficit to seal the opening set with the help of a Kuznetsova double fault on set point.
Vekic continued to fight with the help of her of some rapid shock-making. Fending off a break point to nudge ahead 4-3 in the second set. Although Kuznetsova refused to go away. Saving two match points, it was in the tiebreaker where the Russian managed to turn her fortunes around. Vekic missed out on another two chances to win the match, allowing Kuznetsova to nudge ahead 8-7. She was then able to force proceedings into a decider after a Vekic forehand slammed into the net.
Kuznetsova’s resilience eventually wore her opponent down, who was close to tears after the match. Vekic admitted afterwards that she was dealing with leg pain and took a medical time out just before the start of the final set.
A double break in Kuznetsova’s favor in the decider guided her to a 5-0 lead. Enough of a cushion to enable her to close out the match after two-and-a-half hours of play to win her second Washington title.
“I know I’ve been a little bit lucky today,” she said.
“There’s something going on with Washington. I never lose here. I played two times and I won both.”
The victory comes after what has been a testing first half of the year for Kuznetsova. Left wrist surgery forced her to miss six months of the tour. Meaning that she didn’t start the 2018 season until March. Prior to the Citi Open, she had only won four matches in 10 tournaments played. Making her latest triumph even more special.
“Those times I had after the surgery, I had difficulties everywhere — personal, working different things. I switched coaches. I had lots of issues,” Kuznetsova explained. “But still, I rise again, and it’s really good for me.”
As a result of her latest win, Kuznetsova has risen 41 places in 87th in the world. Meanwhile, Vekic has jumped seven places to 37th.
Davis Cup Reforms Face Late Opposition As Vote Looms
The proposed Davis Cup reforms have received strong criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe ahead of this month’s vote.
The upcoming Davis Cup reform vote has received some strong opposition and criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe.
The vote is set to take place on the 16th of August, where federations will vote to change the 118 year old format to a one week season finale at the end of the year. The proposed move by Kosmos, has received fierce criticism and will need a two-thirds majority in order for it to be approved.
However with the vote just two weeks away Tennis Australia has been among the federations to oppose these reforms and have pushed this even further as they have wrote a letter expressing their discontent at the idea. The letter has been signed by the likes of John Newcombe, current Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
The letter raises the following concerns, “We have written and spoken to the ITF President for several months now requesting clarity on the proposal from Kosmos, but this has not been forthcoming,” explained the letter, which is even signed by former ITF president Brian Tobin.
“Very large numbers are being referenced, but there is not enough detail to give us confidence this proposal will genuinely deliver enough additional value to players and the nations to offset the loss of home and away camaraderie and all the local marketing, facility investment and player development benefit that comes with those ties. In the absence of such important information, we have no choice other than to vote against the proposed amendments.”
However Tennis Australia isn’t the only federation to be against this move as Tennis Europe, who represent more than 50 member nations have also expressed their concern at the idea, “I am particularly concerned that there is hardly any information received from the ITF regarding bank guarantees for the proposed US$120 million per year which would be the $3 billion deal over 25 years, according to the original proposal,” President Vladimir Dimitriev explained in a separate letter.
“I have not yet seen a final and feasible explanation on how the business model or the governance structure will be either.”
The ITF do have the backing of Germany and France ahead of the move though with the AGM meeting set to take place in Orlando, Florida between the 13th and 16th of August.
Serena Williams Withdraws From Montreal Due To Personal Reasons
Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week due to personal reasons.
Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week as she deals with some personal issues.
The American suffered the worst defeat of her career last week when she lost 6-1 6-0 to Johanna Konta in San Jose. The 23 grand slam champion clearly wasn’t at her best and it now turns out that she had personal problems to deal with as this is the reason for her withdrawal in Montreal next week.
The recent Wimbledon finalist also felt that she could not play Montreal and Cincinnati in back to back weeks as she continues her comeback from pregnancy. The tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, admits that he is disappointed but still recognises the high quality field that is left, “Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not be joining us, Fans were very much looking forward to seeing her in action,” explained Eugene.
“But beyond the disappointment, the tournament, as a whole, remains a high-level competition. The entire Top 10 is here, along with 22 of the Top 25. There are exciting matches in store from the outset.”
The American was set to play in Canada for the first time since 2015 before withdrawing today. The 23 time grand slam champion has played five events since returning from pregnancy and the results have been mixed as you can see below:
Indian Wells – Third Round
Miami – First Round
Roland Garros – Fourth Round
Wimbledon – Final
San Jose – First Round
Tatjana Maria will now replace Serena Williams in the main draw and the German faces Alize Cornet in the first round.
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