SEOUL, South Korea - No.2 seed Kiki Bertens scored her 39th victory of the season in style, fighting past Maria Sakkari to take her spot in the KEB Bank Hana Korea Open - becoming the first Dutch player to reach a final in Seoul.
Battling through swirling winds, Bertens stayed focused to contain the big-hitting Sakkari, winning 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 34 minutes.
“The conditions today were very windy, which made it very tough,” Bertens said. “We were both struggling a bit with the serve - I think we hit a lot of double faults, especially in the beginning.
“But the wind is there for both players, so I just kept on fighting and I think in the end she just missed a little bit more shots.”
Indeed, the wind played a factor in the rollercoaster opening set, which featured seven breaks of serve and saw Bertens and Sakkari hit a combined 10 double faults. At first it was Sakkari who got off on the right foot, edging ahead after three straight breaks of serve and holding to take the lead 3-1.
But Bertens stayed dialed in, reeling of five of the next six games to break Sakkari three more times and take the opening set. It was just as tough in the second set, which featured four breaks of serve - three of them going the Dutch player’s way.
“I think all week I didn’t really have my game yet, but I’m really happy to be in the final, of course,” she said. “I think it’s only more space to improve, to be a little bit more calm and relaxed trying to go for my shots a little bit more. Hopefully I can play a better match tomorrow.”
Into her fourth final of 2018, Bertens will face Ajla Tomljanovic, who needed three sets to stun the No.6 seed Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 later in the day.
“It’s going to be a tough match again, but I’m just going to prepare as best as I can, and just focus on a few things that I can do better, which I didn’t do over the last few matches,” Bertens said.
“Tomorrow is another day, hopefully it’s another day where I can improve my game and play a good match - that’s all that matters and we’ll see what the outcome is.”