Kiki Bertens Relishing Time On Clay Ahead Of ‘Interesting’ French Open Campaign - UBITENNIS
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Kiki Bertens Relishing Time On Clay Ahead Of ‘Interesting’ French Open Campaign

The world No.7 evaluates her form and her chances of claiming a maiden grand slam title.




Kiki Bertens (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: It was 12 months ago at the Madrid Open where Kiki Bertens enjoyed one of the best runs of her entire career.


Unseeded in the draw, she toppled the likes of Maria Sharapova and Caroline Garcia to reach her first ever Premier final. The best-ever run achieved by a Dutch player – man or woman – in the history of the tournament. Since then Bertens has made a steady rise up the rankings to a best of sixth earlier this season. During that period she has also claimed a trio of WTA titles to bring her overall tally to eight.

Bertens illustrated that threat she poses on the tour against Petra Kvitova in their quarter-final meeting in Madrid on Thursday. In what was a repeat of the 2018 final. The powerful-hitting 27-year-old bossed her rival around the court with the help of some clever angle shots. Even when Kvitova threatened to stage a comeback in the second set, Bertens stuck to her game plan to prevail 6-2, 6-3.

“Right now I’m just enjoying my game.” She reflected following her latest win.
“I had some great battles, like last week when I lost to Petra (Kvitova) in the (Stuttgart) semis. Now I have won against her, so it feels like anything is possible when you play well. I take that into every match.”

This time of the year is one Bertens relishes. The clay has brought her numerous success in the past with her first seven WTA finals taking place on that surface. In 2016 she scored her maiden top 10 win over Roberta Vinci in Nuremberg. Shortly after that win, she achieved her best ever grand slam run at the French Open. Reaching the semi-finals as an unseeded player.

“On the clay, I like to get a little more behind the baseline and build it up from there. When I get the opportunity, I really like attacking the ball. I don’t find I have to rush too much on the clay.” She explained about her game on the dirt.
“I like to wait for the second, third, fourth or even the fifth ball in the rally to attack.”

Given her history on the surface, some would rate Bertens as a key contender for the French Open title this year. Especially given how the season has gone so far with no player dominating the proceedings. During the first five months of 2019, Kvitova is the only woman to win multiple titles in singles. Overall, there have been 21 winners on the WTA tour so far this year.

“I think everyone can win every week, so it’s going to be really interesting at the French Open.” The world No.7 previewed. “I feel good on the clay and I know I can beat a lot of girls. Right now, I feel confident. But it (the French Open) is still far away.”

Prior to Roland Garros, Bertens’ focus is on Madrid and her upcoming clash with Sloane Stephens. She is yet to defeat the American but has taken a set of her in their two previous meetings in Rome (2013) and Singapore (2018).

“It’s going to be a tough match against Sloane.” She admits. “We played in Singapore, which was a really tough match. She is a great player and a great athlete. I have to be ready, play aggressive and hit as many balls back as possible.”

Should Bertens win the Madrid title this week, she will break into the world’s top five for the first time in her career.

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Simona Halep Suffers Rare Panic Attack During French Open Loss

The ex-world No.1 has vowed to ‘learn from this episode’ after crashing out of the tournament.





Former champion Simona Halep says she ‘lost it’ during her shock second round exit from the French Open on Wednesday.


The 19th seed was a set and a break up against Chinese world No.74 Qinwen Zheng before losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In total Halep hit a costly 29 unforced errors against only nine winners and was broken five times overall.

“It was a difficult one. I was playing well at the start. I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.” Halep said during her press conference.
“But she’s (Zheng) playing well and she played a good match in the end.”

During the match Halep sought medical attention and appeared to be far from her best form. In the decider her blood pressure and pulse was checked by a doctor. She later revealed that the source of her issue was a rare panic attack which she says hadn’t really happened to her during any Tour match until now. The Romanian has been playing in the main draw of major events for 12 years.

“I didn’t expect it because it was just a panic attack,” she said.
I didn’t know how to handle it because I don’t have it often. I don’t really know why it happened because I was leading the match. I was playing well.’
“I couldn’t focus. After the match it was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’ve recovered and I will learn from this episode.”

The 30-year-old concedes her panic attack might have been triggered by her desire to do well at the French Open where she won the title in 2018 and reached the final on two other occasions. Heading into this year’s draw she only played two clay events, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and then the second round in Rome.

“I didn’t feel better during the match. If I would have felt better, I would have started to play a little bit better,” she states.
“I couldn’t manage it and I don’t have many words about it. I just have to accept it and take it.’
“It’s part of the process, and I’m already looking forward to being better in that case if it’s going to happen, but I hope not.”

This year is Halep’s earliest exit from the French Open since 2013 when she lost in the first round.

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‘Great Things Are Going To Happen’ – Maria Sakkari Finds Silver Lining In Shock French Open Loss

The world No.3 insists that she is ‘feeling good’ after being knocked out of the Grand Slam.




Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Maria Sakkari says she is confident she is heading in the right direction despite suffering her earliest loss at the French Open since 2019.


The fourth seed, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago, was ousted 7-6(5), 7-6(4), by Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova. A former top 20 player who reached the last four of the Australian Open in 2021 before suffering from injury issues. Sakkari produced a costly 37 unforced errors which cancelled out the 31 winners she produced during the second round encounter.

She played an amazing match. She always plays extremely well in Grand Slams and today she was the better player, so I have to give it to her,” Sakkari of Muchova said during her press conference.
It’s disappointing for sure because it (the French Open) is still my favourite tournament and I’m sad.” She added.

Sakkari’s defeat concludes what has been a roller-coaster clay court swing for the Greek. In Stuttgart she was forced to retire during her opening match due to a gastroenteral illness. At the Madrid Open she crashed out in the second round to Daria Kasatkina before losing in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open to Ons Jabeur.

However, the 26-year-old believes there are positives which can be drawn from her latest match in the French capital.

“I found myself again in the court. I’m feeling good. I’m fighting. I’m enjoying my time on the court so I think that great things are going to happen soon,” she states.

Historically Sakkari has enjoyed mixed fortunes when it comes to playing in major tournaments. Last year at the Grand Slams she made two semi-final appearances, as well as losing in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round of the Australian Open.

“I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets, and so many upsets all these years. At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament,” she reflected.
“It’s very disappointing because I really wanted to do well again but I’m sure that I have a few more years left in my career.”

As for Muchova she is through to the last 32 in Paris for the second year in a row. Awaiting her next will be 27th seed Amanda Anisimova who defeated Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1, in her second round match.

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French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur

The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.




Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.


The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.

During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.

“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”

De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.

“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“

Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.

Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.

Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”

As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.

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