MADRID, Spain - For the third year in a row, No.7 seed Kiki Bertens and No.12 seed Anastasija Sevastova set up a date at the Mutua Madrid Open - and for the second year in a row, Bertens took the honors, winning their third-round encounter 6-1, 6-2 in just 59 minutes.
The pair have never played outside the Spanish capital, with Sevastova taking their 2017 quarterfinal 6-3, 6-3 and Bertens biting back 6-1, 6-4 en route to her first Premier Mandatory final last year. This week, the Dutchwoman has picked up exactly where she left off, looking at ease with the court and conditions in the Caja Mágica to score her third dominant straight-sets win en route to her third consecutive last-eight showing here.
— WTA (@WTA) May 8, 2019
The Dutchwoman was near-flawless in a 22-minute opening set, conceding a miserly four points in the first four games as her serve, speed, power and touch all purred in top gear.
Three aces and a thumping forehand that barely missed provided a solid foundation, and the 27-year-old was so sharp that even Sevastova's renowned bag of tricks had little impact: the Latvian was unable to win even one point with her beloved dropshot, with Bertens chasing each one down and essaying delicate counterdrops in response.
Indeed, it was the St. Petersburg champion who peaked with finesse today. After her 6-4, 6-3 win over Sevastova's compatriot Jelena Ostapenko in the previous round, Bertens had been more enthusiastic about the prospect of matching up with Sevastova, saying: "Against her, I can also play my own game more."
So it proved: with every aspect of the 2016 Roland Garros semifinalist's game clicking, Sevastova was unable to anticipate her opponent's line of attack - and as the match went on, an increasingly confident Bertens, who is just one spot beneath the career high ranking of World No.6 that she hit in March, would wheel the dropshot out more and more. During one particularly cheeky stretch of play, she would win four consecutive points with it as she leapt out to a 3-0 lead in the second set.
— WTA (@WTA) May 8, 2019
By this point, Sevastova had to battle hard even to get on the scoreboard, with the US Open semifinalist finally managing to land some blows with her own forehand to save two break points that would have put her down 0-4. Two games later, the 29-year-old repeated the trick to stave off a 1-5 deficit.
But these were mere bumps in a mostly smooth road for Bertens. The Sydney and Stuttgart semifinalist was utterly dominant behind her delivery, losing just eight points in total behind it all day and never even being taken to deuce. Moving relentlessly towards the finishing line, Bertens was able to swing freely on return - and broke Sevastova for a fifth time for the match, sealing victory as a backhand from the Beijing finalist found the net. The result sets up a quarterfinal for Bertens against either No.2 seed Petra Kvitova, in what would be a reprise of last year's final, or Caroline Garcia.