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.

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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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Jannik Sinner reaches the quarter final at the ATP Challenger in Ortisei

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Just five days after winning the ATP Next Gen title in Milan Italian 18-year-old rising star Jannik Sinner returned to the court to play at the Sparkasse Challenger in Ortisei in Val Gardena, less than two hours from his hometown of San Candido in the Italian region of Sudtyol.

 

Sinner started his tournament in Ortisei with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 win over Lucas Miedler and continued his campaign with a 6-3 6-4 win over his compatriot Roberto Marcora in a sold-out night session to qualify for the quarter finals.

Sinner broke Marcora in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 with an ace after rallying from 0-30 down in the ninth game. Sinner broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead in the second set and never looked back in his next service games to seal the win. Sinner will face Federico Gaio, who beat world number 172 Danilo Petrovic 6-4 6-4.

Sinner became the youngest winner ever in the ATP Challenger circuit last February in Bergamo. He won his second Challenger title in Lexington last summer. He has improved his ranking by 600 points to a career-high of number 96 in the ATP Ranking.

Italian wild card Lorenzo Musetti swept aside Bernabé Zapata Miralles 6-4 6-0 setting up a quarter final match against Austria’s Sebastian Ofner, who beat his compatriot Dennis Novak in the tie-break of the third set 3-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

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Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek end the season with a win over Rain Klaasen and Michael Venus

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Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek beat Jonas Bjorkman Group winners Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the doubles tournament at the ATP Finals in London ending their season with a win.

 

Klaasen and Venus got the first break of the match in the fifth game, but they were broken back in the eighth game, as they failed to serve out for the first set.

Dodig and Polasek earned a chance to close out the first set in the 10th game. Klaasen and Venus fended off two set points to force a tie-break. Klaasen and Venus took a 4-3 lead, but Dodig and Polasek reeled off four points to seal the tie-break 7-4.

Dodig and Polasek earned an early break at the start of the second set and held on their serve to claim the win.

“I think we had amazing season. We played 11 tournaments together and now we are here in London. To close the season with a win here is a great feeling. We are looking forward to next year”,said Dodig.

 “It’s awesome to win here. The atmosphere throughout the week has been great. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I am really happy we can finish the season with a win here. There is no better feeling”, said Polasek.  

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Matteo Berrettini Scores Historic Win Before Exit From ATP Finals

The 23-year-old ends his breakthrough season on the ATP Tour with another milestone in his career.

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LONDON: Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to win a match at the ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem on Thursday afternoon.

 

The world No.8 managed to dismantle the game of his rival, who was far from his best at times, with the help of his blistering serve to seal the 7-6(3), 6-3, victory. Ending Thiem’s streak of four consecutive wins over top 10 players, including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer earlier this week. In total Berrettini hit 30 winners to 21 unforced errors and converted both of his break point opportunities.

“I’ve always had great fights against him. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set when I lost my serve because I didn’t play a great game.” Berrettini said afterward.
“I’m really happy with my performance because I am not feeling great physically.” He added.

The downside to the round-robin format of the event is that some matches end up being irrelevant with this being one of them. Regardless of the outcome, Thiem has already qualified for the semi-finals and Berrettini is on his way out. Nevertheless, the 23-year-old Italian was playing for pride at The O2 Arena.

A close start to the match saw neither playing managing to gain any momentum during the first eight games. Then inconsistencies in Thiem’s game started to haunt him. Berrettini’s ability to hit the ball deep into the court forced his rival to make a series of errors as he broke for a 5-4 lead. However, it was his turn to stumble behind his serve as Thiem broke back to level with relative ease.

Despite neither player capitalizing on their advantages, the tiebreaker was a one-sided encounter. Three Thiem unforced errors, as well as a winning Berrettini slice, saw him go behind 0-4 in the blink of an eye. Creating enough of a margin for Berrettini to seal the first set with the help of a 134 mph ace.

Thiem clearly looked flat on the court compared to two days ago when he downed Djokovic, however, nothing should be taken away from Berrettini. Who kept focus and stuck to his game plan throughout the match. A backhand passing shot, followed by a crosscourt winner enabled him to break once again midway through the second set. Easing towards victory after just 76 minutes play, Berrettini closed the match out with a delicate drop shot.

“I’m really proud of myself, but also for my team, my family and my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season.” He reflected on his year.
“I didn’t expect at the beginning of the season to be here (in London). I hope to come back next year, but now I just want to say thanks to those guys (his team). Without them, it couldn’t be possible.”
“I’m happy to finish with a win.“

Despite the loss, Thiem will finish at the top of the Bjorg Born Group. He will play the runner-up of the other group in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Whilst Berrettini’s ATP season is over, he can’t rest yet. Next week he will be in Madrid playing for his country in the Davis Cup along with many other of his fellow players.

“There is one more event. I have to rest a little bit and then I think I deserve a holiday.” He declared.

Berrettini ends 2019 with 43 wins on the ATP Tour in what is a career best. He started the year ranked 54th in the world and didn’t make his top 10 debut until last month.

Italian men in the ATP Finals

-C. Barazzutti in 1978 – 0 wins and 3 loses
-A. Panatta in 1975 – 0 wins and 3 losses
-M. Barrettini in 2019 – 1 win and 2 losses

 

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