MIAMI, FL, USA -- No.7 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands came back from a set down to move past Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1, and reach the fourth round at the Miami Open on Saturday.
"If you leave the first set away, I think it was pretty solid," Bertens told the media, after her win. "Of course, it would be better if I started from the beginning like this, but it didn’t go my way in the beginning."
Kuzmova notched her first and only Top 10 win to date over Bertens in Dubai earlier this season, in their only previous encounter, and after going up a set, it looked like the World No.48 might pick up a second. But World No.8 Bertens picked up her game to cruise through the final two sets and claim a turnaround victory after 84 minutes of play.
Referencing their Dubai match, Bertens said that she "knew [Kuzmova] can play really well, and that’s what she did in the first set. So I knew that I had to dig deep in there, and just go for my shots a little bit, and stay patient, and that’s what I did. But of course she’s a great player and she has a great future ahead of her."
Big-hitting Bertens blasted 14 aces during the clash, and won a whopping 85 percent of points when she got her first serve into play. In the final set, Bertens won 25 of the 35 points, including all four points on Kuzmova's second serve, and did not face a break point as she rolled to victory in the decider.
Bertens will now face No.12 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the round of 16, as Barty overcame her compatriot Samantha Stosur, 6-0, 6-3, earlier on Friday. Barty has won all three of her previous matches with Bertens, including a semifinal victory in Sydney earlier this year.
"[Barty] can do anything, that’s how I feel," Bertens stated. "The way she’s playing is different from all the other girls. Normally it’s hard hitting, [but] she’s having the touch, the slice, coming into the net, it’s a different game.
"But I like the way she plays and I like her as a person as well, so it’s just another great opportunity to play a good match, and to be here in the fourth round is just a great result for me."
20-year-old Kuzmova used fantastic forehands to assert herself as the top player in the opening set. Bertens staved off four break points in the fourth game, but the Dutchwoman was less fortunate when serving at 4-3, as a tremendous forehand winner down the line gave Kuzmova the only break of the set and a 5-3 lead.
The Slovak held firm when serving for the opening frame, converting her second set point with another forehand winner, this one crosscourt. Up a set, Kuzmova found herself approaching a second consecutive win over the No.7 seed.
However, with her back against the wall, Bertens came roaring back in the second set. The Dutchwoman’s stellar serve improved dramatically, closing out her three service games in the set with unreturned deliveries. By contrast, Kuzmova’s error count mounted, and the Slovak quickly found herself down a double break at 4-0.
After holding with an ace for 5-0, Bertens took command in another of Kuzmova’s service games. The Slovak hit a misbegotten dropshot attempt into the net to give Bertens double set point, and Bertens closed out the bagel with an error-forcing forehand, leveling the match at one set apiece.
Bertens kept her fiery form rolling in the final set, winning the first ten points of the decider. The errors continued to fly off the racquet of Kuzmova as she was unable to reclaim the level of play she exhibited wonderfully in the first set, while Bertens was on fire with her serve and forehand.
After Bertens crushed an overhead to hold for 5-0 and an eleventh straight game, Kuzmova showed signs of life, holding at love to stop the Dutchwoman’s game-winning streak. In the next game, the Slovak saved one match point with a return winner that dribbled over the net, but an ace and an overhead from Bertens in the next two points ended the affair.