MELBOURNE, Australia -- No.9 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands matched her career-best Australian Open result on Thursday, when she ousted Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova, 6-3, 7-5, to move into the third round of the year’s first Grand Slam event.
Bertens, a consistent member of the Top 10 since her debut in that echelon in October 2018, had only reached the third round in Melbourne once before, when she won two matches before losing to eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki in 2018. The newly-married World No.10 is one step closer to a new best finish after her hard-fought 86-minute victory over World No.163 Rodionova.
The players had a nearly equivalent number of unforced errors, but Bertens out-winnered the Aussie 25 to eight. Rodionova, in only her second match with an opponent ranked inside the Top 10, broke Bertens three times on the day, but the Dutchwoman converted six of her 11 break points to slide to victory.
Bertens will now face Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in the third round. Diyas won her second consecutive tense three-setter earlier on Thursday, when she overcame Anna Blinkova of Russia, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Diyas upset No.21 seed Amanda Anisimova in the opening round.
Rodionova started the match by swiftly stunning the No.9 seed as she obtained an early 2-0 lead, but Bertens’s aggressive play began to get into gear after that, as she ran off five straight games to rack up a 5-2 lead and put herself in control of the affair.
The Dutchwoman, however, was unable to close out the opening frame at that juncture, as the battling Aussie slammed a winning forehand return down the line to grab three break points, then attained a love service break after a Bertens double fault.
Bertens, though, put herself in a winning position in the next game, when a forehand clipped the netcord for a cheeky winner and queued up her first set point. Bertens converted that chance with a passing winner down the line to collect the one-set lead.
After an early exchange of breaks to start the second set, Rodionova had two chances to go up a break at 3-2. However, Bertens staved those off with her powerful serve and forehand combination, and then held in that game by closing out an all-court rally with a splendid forehand winner down the line.
Rodionova then saved a break point in the next game with an error-forcing forehand of her own to reach 3-3. The duo then powered through swift service games as they reached 5-5 with minimal fuss.
After another strong service game to go ahead 6-5, Bertens saw her opportunity to finish the clash in the next game. A volley miscue by the Dutchwoman saw her miss her first match point, but Rodionova double faulted on the No.9 seed’s second chance, ceding victory to Bertens.