Kiki Bertens will be fighting for the Mutua Madrid Open title once again. A year after losing the final to Czech player Petra Kvitova, Bertens will have another chance to lift the champion’s trophy after winning the semi-final in today’s night session against US player Sloane Stephens, 6-2, 7-5, in one and a half hours of play.
Bertens came into the final with the confidence you would expect from a player that has not lost a single set in the tournament. Her self-belief was evident from the start of the match. In the first game, the Dutch player made her intentions clear. She broke Stephen’s serve at the first opportunity and managed to hold hers despite the North American earning four chances to break back.
This provided a further boost to the morale of the tournament’s seventh seed who, after reaching 2-0, went in for the kill. Relying on her solid serving, against which she was yet to concede a break point, Bertens dominated the game from the baseline to take the first set with ease (6-2).
Having lost two service games in the first set, Stephens started the second with the knowledge that she had to improve with the ball in her hand. And improve she did. She held her serve comfortably, without giving away any break points, and pounced on her chance in the sixth game to take the lead in the set (2-4).
Then came the response from Bertens. The Dutch player clearly did not want to give up her immaculate record by losing her first set of the tournament and stepped into another gear. She immediately broke back and then levelled the set on her serve (4-4). “I think it was good today that I broke her straight back when she broke me and that I was still able to fight for the second set”, said the seventh seed in her post-match press conference.
At 4-5 down, Bertens saved three set points from the North American with three big serves. “I think my served help me a lot. Today, I saved a lot of breakpoints, also the set points with my serve, so of course that helps a lot with the confidence”, the Dutchwoman stated after the match.
Stephens never recovered and Bertens picked up the next three games to close out the match (7-5) and reach her second consecutive final in Madrid. “I love it here. I love the circumstances. I love the clay. I love the altitude. So, I think it’s helping me a lot for my game. I’m really happy with the way I play here and to be in the final again” admitted Bertens.
The final obstacle in the Dutch player’s path to the title will be the world number 3 and two-time champion in the Caja Mágica, Simona Halep. “It’s going to be a really tough battle. We’ve had great battles in the past. Simona loves clay. She loves to play here as well. She has won in Madrid twice. So I think it’s going to be a great battle and I’m looking forward to it”, explained Bertens regarding tomorrow’s final in the Caja Mágica.
And with good reason; if Bertens takes the spoils, it will be the biggest title of her career. For Halep there is a double incentive as victory would mean equalling Kvitova as the player with the most titles in Madrid (3) and climbing to the top of the WTA world ranking as from Monday. The final takes place tomorrow at 18:30 in the Manolo Santana Stadium.