GSTAAD, Switzerland - It may be less than 24 hours after the Wimbledon Championships concluded, but the tour is already back on clay for the second edition of the Ladies Championship Gstaad. No.2 seed Kiki Bertens navigated through a tricky first round to beat Aleksandra Krunic, 6-3, 6-1.
"It felt really nice," Bertens said after the match. "It's great to be back here; I had great memories from last year, though weather-wise, it was a little bit different today. But I was really happy to finish my first round on Monday."
Gstaad suffered through a stormy - literally! - first staging of the event last year, with rain delays interrupting play for most of the week. But the conditions seemed to suit Bertens - who had just made it through the rain en route to the semifnals of Roland Garros a few weeks prior - and the big-hitting Dutchwoman ultimately finished runner-up to hometown favorite Viktorija Golubic in three tough sets.
"I think I started on Monday or Tuesday last year, but I didn't finish it until Friday. So I pretty much played the whole tournament in three days! I'm really happy to already be in the second round on Monday."
Back on her beloved clay after a first round Wimbledon loss to Sorana Cirstea, Bertens battled through five holds of serve before getting the crucial break in the sixth and taking control from there. The 25-year-old reached a career-high ranking of No.18 back in May and showed off that level through the finish line, dropping just one more game to advance in 62 minutes.
"It's warm, and with the altitude, the ball is bouncing a lot. Krunic had a lot of problems with it, and it's tough to control the ball. I think I did a good job today."
Up next for Bertens is German qualifier Anna Zaja, who eased past Patricia Maria Tig, 6-2, 6-3. In the meantime, the No.2 seed is enjoying to be back on her favorite surface.
"I love it! I don't think grass is my best, and I prefer clay, so for me it's always tough to lose early at Wimbledon, but one great thing is that I can start practicing on clay and that always brings a smile to my face."
Around the grounds, No.4 seed Mona Barthel was the first top seed to exit, losing from a set up to rising Greek star Maria Sakkari, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; No.6 seed Carina Witthoeft avoided a three-setter to dispatch Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-3, 7-6(5). Slovakian youngster Rebecca Sramkova took out Nina Stojanovic, 6-3, 6-4, while America Louisa Chirico slid past qualifier Tereza Smitkova, 7-6(5), 6-4.