MADRID, Spain - In a rematch of last year’s Mutua Madrid Open final, No.7 seed Kiki Bertens earned her revenge against Petra Kvitova in dominant fashion on Thursday, soaring past the Czech in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.
“It’s always tough to play against Petra, we have had great matchups almost every time we played,” Bertens told press afterwards. “Also from here last year, that was a great match.
“I think it wasn’t that I did something really differently [from last year], but I think Petra didn’t play her best today. Also last year the roof was closed, which helped her a little more than me. So today it was cooler, a bit windier, so the conditions helped me today.
“From my side I feel like I played solid from the beginning. It was just a good match from my side.”
Bertens was dominant from start to finish against the defending champion, keeping the Czech’s booming game contained and firing 13 winners en route to victory.
Although her run at Madrid has come to an end, three-time champion Kvitova can still claim a sweet consolation prize: her stellar history here makes her the winningest champion in tournament history, and she has the most wins here of any other player, owning a 29-7 win-loss record.
Bertens was on the attack early on against Kvitova at the Caja Magica, the pair trading blows from the baseline. Kvitova’s unforced error count was a factor from the very beginning, handing out free points to her opponent - including an early break chance at 1-1. Kvitova brushed it off, but she was soon in trouble again as her forehand let her down and Bertens converted to take the lead at 3-2.
The Dutch player saved two break chances of her own a game later, and was right back on the attack, targeting the Kvitova backhand and extending her lead to 5-2. She kept the momentum going and served out the set, and started the second with another early break - making it seven games in a row won against the Czech player.
Kvitova finally found her game just in time, shaking off two more of Bertens’ break chances that would have had her down a double break in the second set, holding firm to make it 2-1. The Czech was pumping herself up and keeping herself within touching distance of Bertens, and her efforts were finally rewarded with a crucial break to level the score at 3-3.
— WTA (@WTA) May 9, 2019
But Bertens was undaunted, and she broke back straightaway with a sizzling backhand winner to reestablish her 4-3 lead. She had to dodge two more break points as Kvitova continued to try and put together a comeback, and then served it out a game later to book her place in the Madrid semifinals.
“I think that obviously I’m just really tired from everything and I think that she was just prepared a bit better,” Kvitova explained. “I couldn’t serve that well, and it was really difficult for me because I didn’t really feel like I was moving well. When I was playing those rallies with her, she wasn’t missing anything.
“I can also say I was a little bit negative in the mind, but I think she just played her game and I was the second player on court.”
Bertens hit 13 winners to 17 unforced errors, her figures outpacing Kvitova’s 16 and 25, respectively. The Dutch player’s serve played a big factor too, winning 76% of first serves and 55% of points behind her second. Her strong serving was the key to bail her out of trouble, with Kvitova managing to convert just once from seven chances. For her part, Bertens broke Kvitova’s serve five times from nine opportunities.
The victory also improves Bertens’ head-to-head record against Kvitova to 3-3, a matchup quickly becoming one of the most interesting rivalries on tour.
Up next, Bertens will take on No.8 seed Sloane Stephens as she seeks a spot back in the Madrid Open final. Stephens eased past Petra Martic in straights sets earlier in the day to advance, winning 6-4, 6-3.
“It’s going to be a tough one against Sloane, we played in Singapore which was a really tough match,” Stephens said. “She’s a great player of course, and a great athlete, so I have to be ready again and play aggressive when I can. And hit as many balls back as I can.”