SYDNEY, Australia -- No.7 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands claimed a swift quarterfinal victory over qualifier Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 6-2, 6-2, to advance to the final four at the Sydney International on an overcast Thursday.
"I think today was a good match for me, I'm really happy to be in the semifinal here," Bertens said, during her post-match press conference. "For me, it's always really nice to play just a lot of matches to get in the rhythm. I'm really happy with every match I can play before such a big event like Melbourne."
Bertens and Putintseva had split their first two WTA meetings, each of which were three-set tussles which clocked over two-and-a-half hours apiece. But this time, Bertens pulled off a comprehensive victory after only 61 minutes of play to move into the Sydney semifinals.
The Dutchwoman, enjoying her first Australian swing ranked in the Top 10, had 16 winners, compared to Putintseva's three. World No.44 Putintseva was hoping for a second consecutive Top 10 win, following her second-round comeback win over Sloane Stephens, but had 18 unforced errors and was never able to get to break point against the divine play of Bertens.
In the semifinals, World No.9 Bertens will face Australia's top-ranked player Ashleigh Barty. World No.15 Barty followed up her second-round upset of World No.1 Simona Halep with a straight-set quarterfinal win over No.10 seed Elise Mertens earlier on Thursday.
In their only prior WTA main-draw meeting, Barty dispatched Bertens, 6-3, 6-1 in Montreal last year. "Yeah, not great memories of that," Bertens admitted. "But [Barty's] a great player. She plays really tricky. I think in Montreal, I didn't play my best, so I'm really excited to play a good match tomorrow."
"[Barty] uses the slice a lot, gets you out of the rhythm," Bertens continued. "You play to the forehand and then you get the heavy shot. I feel like she can do a lot with the ball. You just really have to play good, try to play aggressive but not too much, so try to stay in the rallies. That's what I have to do tomorrow."
Bertens started her opening-set dominance in the very first game, breaking the Putintseva serve after a clutch of forehand errors by the player from Kazakhstan. The Dutchwoman then leapt to a double-break advantage, knocking off an outstanding backhand dropshot on break point to lead 3-0.
A minor spell of rain in the next game could not derail the Bertens momentum, as she zoomed to a 4-0 lead before Putintseva was able to get her feet under her in the following game, finally getting on the board at 4-1.
By then, the set was out of reach, as Bertens had no trouble holding in her next two service games, using her ferocious forehand to power her through the remainder of the set. At 5-2, a crosscourt winner off that wing brought up triple set point, and Bertens wrapped up the one-set lead with another untouchable shot from that side.
Putintseva put up a valiant effort in the early stages of the second set, firing some strong serves to lead 2-1. But Bertens was in the zone, and claimed a break at love to lead 3-2 after Putintseva suddenly sprayed errors out of nowhere.
Bertens had minimal concerns closing out the match, as, at 5-2, 30-30, a deep second serve forced a long return, bringing up her first match point. There, a strong backhand by the No.7 seed forced an errant volley by Putintseva, putting the Dutch star into the last four.