The early weeks of 2020 were characteristically busy for WTA World No.7 Kiki Bertens, who made a promising start to the year after a welcome break following a gruelling end to 2019.
She debuted in Brisbane, where she was dropped in at the deep end with a succession of tough matches against Top 30 opponents. Dayana Yastremska and Anett Kontaveit were both dismissed in three sets, but she lost out to World No.4 Naomi Osaka after pushing the Japanese to a decider.
Bertens’ next port of call was Melbourne for the Australian Open. The Dutchwoman had never previously reached the second week in the opening major of the year but she swept through the first three rounds without dropping a set. Garbiñe Muguruza stood between her and a third Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance, and with the Spaniard in inspired form, that achievement was forced to wait.
She transitioned from Australia to St Petersburg via two Fed Cup wins over Belarus and continued that positive form in Russia, where she arrived as the defending champion. Veronika Kudermetova was dismissed for the loss of only three games in the opening round, while Anastasia Potapova and Ekaterina Alexandrova both fell before a successful week was completed with a resounding 6-1, 6-3 win over Elena Rybakina in the final.
From there, Bertens made the third round of Qatar for the first time but fell in three tight sets to Zheng Shuai before the Tour was forced to be suspended.
A player who thrives on being active and playing matches, the lengthy stoppage in tournaments has forced Bertens to take things relatively easy.
She appears to have taken it in her stride, initially working on jigsaws given to her by friends Johanna Larsson and Amanda Strang, and then taking the opportunity to explore some of the Netherlands’ extensive cycle network.
She was given a focus by the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, which took place in the last week of April. Having won on the clay in Spain’s capital in 2019, she clearly worked hard to defend her title on the PlayStation this time around and was a deserving champion.
Graduating from jigsaws into 3D puzzles, she finally got the dog (below) that she has been waiting for! She has also gained on a family level, becoming an aunt during the period the Tour has been dormant.
On June 24, she released a book ‘Tennis met Kiki’, that she hopes will inspire young players in the Netherlands to take up the sport.
Although she has been able to get back on court, throwing in some padel for variety, she has still found time to enjoy being at home, gathering her energy to push once again when competition returns in the second half of the year.