LONDON, Great Britain - Last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinalist Kiki Bertens kicked off her 2019 campaign with a confident straight-sets victory over the tricky Mandy Minella.
Bertens comes into Wimbledon this year with more wins on grass than in any previous season after reaching the final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and semifinal last week at Eastbourne.
She carried all of that momentum with her into her Centre Court clash against Minella, firing 11 winners and 2 aces en route to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Originally scheduled on Court 12, the Dutch player - a self-described introvert - had to adapt quickly after her match was moved up to the much larger Centre Court.
“They told me, like, probably we're gonna move your match to Centre Court,” Bertens told press after the match. “I'm not the person who likes to play on Centre Court, but it is what it is.
“I think it was just a good challenge for me to just go out there and play my first match on Centre Court. And like, how I was able to manage the nerves and all that kind of stuff.”
But Bertens didn’t look at all phased by the bigger stage, starting out confidently against Minella. Only one point was won by the returner across a tense first four games, with both players holding strongly and getting a feel for each other’s game.
Bertens edged ahead after three consecutive breaks of serve, drawing first blood at 4-2 and extending her lead to 5-3. The Dutch player held comfortably to take the opening set 6-3 in 32 minutes.
She was under pressure again at the start of the second, fighting off break points at 1-1. Bertens raised her level more and more as the set wore on, and battling through a marathon game at 2-2, needing almost six minutes to convert on her fifth chance and take the lead. She reeled off the last five straight games to take the match and book her spot in the second round.
Up next for the No.4 seed, Bertens will face American player Taylor Townsend, who won 6-2, 6-3 against Arina Rodionova earlier in the day to advance.