NEW YORK, NY, USA -- No.13 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands continued her breakthrough summer on the hardcourts by easing past Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, 6-0, 7-5, in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday.
Bertens knocked off World No.1 Simona Halep for the biggest title of her career two weeks ago at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, and extended her winning streak to seven straight matches with her 69-minute victory over Pliskova, the left-hander of the Czech twins (sister Karolina, the No.8 seed at this event, is the right-hander).
"I think I started really well," Bertens told the media during her post-match press conference. "I took every opportunity I had into the match, and also beginning of second set. But I think from then on, she started to play better, serve better. But I was really happy that I could finish it still in two sets and took the opportunities I had today."
26-year-old Bertens was stellar on serve during the match, firing five aces and winning 86 percent of points on her first delivery. The Dutch player had 28 winners to only 18 unforced errors against World No.96 Pliskova, who reached the second round at the US Open last year.
"I'm hitting the ball well, so the start was really well," Bertens continued. "I think, in general, I was just keeping on doing the things I had to do during the whole match. So I'm happy with the level I played today."
The Dutch No.1 is into the second round for only the third time in her seven US Open appearances, and has never yet made the third round. Bertens will try to break that duck on Thursday against qualifier Francesca di Lorenzo, who was the straight-set winner of an all-American battle with Christina McHale.
Bertens seemed to pick up exactly where she left off in her run to the title in Cincinnati. The Dutchwoman closed out the first game of the match with an ace and immediately started cruising from there, breaking Pliskova in the following game behind solid forehands.
Beautiful all-court play leading to a volley winner gave Bertens a break point for a 4-0 lead on Pliskova’s next service game, which was converted after a long rally ended with Pliskova punching a backhand into the net.
Pliskova was never able to get on track in her service games in the opening frame, and she squandered two game points at 5-0, letting Bertens take the one-set lead on her second break point of the game following a long forehand error by the Czech.
Bertens continued to roll at the start the second set, extending her streak to nine straight games as she stayed aggressive while Pliskova faltered, and the match was 6-0, 3-0 before Pliskova was able to put the brakes on Bertens.
But Pliskova eventually made the set extremely competitive, finally finding opportunities to blast her lefty forehand, and claimed her only break of the match to get back on serve at 3-2. The Czech then held for 3-3 as she began to take advantage of short balls from Bertens, whose level had dipped from the majesty of the first set.
Pliskova finally found the rhythm on her serve and was holding easily up to 5-5, but Bertens was hardly troubled on serve either, after her minor stumble. On game point at 5-5, Pliskova pounded shots to the Bertens backhand in a scintillating rally, but Bertens finally cracked that point open with a blistering backhand pass down the line to hold for 6-5.
That seemed to be the turning point, as Pliskova opened the next game by double-faulting twice in a row, followed by a Bertens passing shot to set up triple match point. Two daring backhand winners by Pliskova erased the first two, but on the third, a strong backhand return by Bertens queued up a forehand winner to seal the victory.