PETERSBURG, Russia - Defending champion Kiki Bertens wasted no time booking her spot into the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy quarterfinals after a solid victory over Veronika Kudermetova, 6-1, 6-2.
Bertens looked untouchable in her first WTA match since the Australian Open, dropping serve just once against Kudermetova on Sibur Arena. The No.2 seed needed 57 minutes to record 13 winners and six aces, and won an impressive 88% of points behind her first serve.
The Dutch player was aggressive on the return, stepping into the court and keeping Kudermetova under constant pressure. The Russian’s unforced error count grew as she tried to go bigger to match Bertens’ power, but came up short.
Bertens took two commanding breaks of serve to start the match with a 4-0 lead in the first set, before Kudermetova could find her footing. The Russian acquitted herself well as she fought to get on the scoreboard, holding for 4-1, but Bertens was right back in charge, breaking for third time to seal the set 6-1.
She continued her romp in the second set, breaking early and opening up a 3-0 lead. With Sibur Arena willing her on, Kudermetova held serve firmly at 3-1 and put together a mammoth effort to earn her first break of the Bertens serve at 3-2.
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But the No.2 seed slammed the door shut on any hopes of a comeback for Kudermetova, breaking right back to extend her lead to 4-2. Bertens continued to strike winners off of both wings and play a tidy game - recording only four unforced errors across both sets - to break once more and claim her spot into the quarterfinals after less than an hour.
It’s a strong recovery for Bertens after last week’s heartbreak in The Hague. Playing for the Netherlands, Bertens had won both of her singles rubbers against Aryna Sabalenka and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, but narrowly lost in the deciding doubles match to those same players to send Belarus into the Fed Cup Final.
Another Russian awaits in the St. Petersburg quarterfinals for Bertens, as she takes on Anastasia Potapova in the next round. The teenage qualifier took down Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-6(2), 6-3 yesterday to advance.
More to follow...