'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands -- World No.4 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands went 2-for-2 in match wins on Friday when she followed up her rain-interrupted second-round victory with a 6-3, 6-3 quarterfinal win over 2017 finalist Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia at the Libéma Open.
Top seed Bertens was pushed to a final-set tiebreak by Vikhlyantseva in their only prior meeting, which took place in the first round at this very event last year, when the Russian was defending her runner-up result. But this time around, Bertens controlled the match throughout, garnering a win after 70 minutes of play.
"I’m really happy with today’s win," Bertens said, after her victory. "[Vikhlyantseva is] a great player on the grass, I had a really tough first-round battle [with her] last year."
Bertens, playing as the No.1 seed in her home country, won a whopping 82 percent of points on her fearsome first serve, firing six aces during the clash. Vikhlyantseva had 15 winners to the Dutchwoman's 14, but the Russian also blasted 30 unforced errors in the match, while Bertens had half that many.
"I played better than my second-round match, I was really happy with that," said Bertens. "I’m really happy to be in the semis of my home tournament."
Bertens used her heavy forehand to power through the court during the early stages of the contest, eventually collecting enough points to work her way to the first service break of the match and lead 3-2. Powerful serving by the Dutchwoman allowed her to consolidate the break and extend her lead to 4-2.
A forehand winner by Bertens closed out a service hold for 5-3, and the top seed pulled the following game from game point for Vikhlyantseva to break and set point, after errors by the Russian. Vikhlyantseva ceded the break, and with it the set, after a forehand flew long on that first set point.
Vikhlyantseva did well to power her way out of trouble in service games at 1-0 and 2-1, hitting herself out of 0-30 holes in each of those instances. But the Russian would not be as fortunate at 4-3, when a 0-30 deficit led to a double fault which brought up break point for Bertens. There, an incorrect service return challenge by Vikhlyantseva gave Bertens the critical break.
Serving for the match at 5-3, Bertens hit an ace to reach triple match point, but a razor-sharp service return winner on the first match point started a run for Vikhlyantseva that led her to deuce. Bertens saw a fourth match point come and go, but the Dutchwoman finally used an error-forcing forehand to convert her fifth match point and stake a spot in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Bertens will take on teenage qualifier Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who ousted two-time Libéma Open runner-up Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in Friday's final quarterfinal match.
The other semifinal will pit Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova against Alison Riske of the United States. Kudermetova defeated Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, while Riske finished up her 6-4, 7-6(5) second-round win over Polona Hercog of Slovenia early on Friday, then ousted Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova, 7-5, 6-3, later in the day.