ROME, Italy - Daria Gavrilova’s Cinderella run from qualifying came to an end at the hands of an inspired Kiki Bertens, who outhit her in straight sets to move on at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The No.15 seeded Dutchwoman showed every inch of her clay court prowess to put together a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Gavrilova and reach her first semifinal of 2017.
“Today was special because this was the first match where I was really calm,” Bertens told WTA Insider after the win. “I stayed really calm and focused, and this was the first match where I really had confidence in myself. It felt great.”
She added: “It’s tough, because coming into the match you always know something is going to happen [when you play against Dasha]. You have to be prepared for a long match and I think I was ready for it today, trying to play aggressive. I think that worked well today, and it wasn’t too long!”
Gavrilova, who is ranked No.33 in the world and reached the semifinals here in 2015, was forced to play through the qualifying rounds after forgetting to sign up for the tournament. All but one of the Australian’s five previous matches had gone three sets as well, and a result she spent two hours on court longer than Bertens.
The fatigue finally showed as she ran up against Bertens, who has reached back-to-back quarterfinals on her favorite surface and is in superb form after reaching her first Premier Mandatory quarterfinal in Madrid.
Bertens recovered from dropping serve in the opening game with a break of her own, and she spread the court with a series of backhand slices to keep Gavrilova on the run. She hit more than twice as many winners as the Aussie – 11 winners to Gavrilova’s five – and won a commanding 89% of points behind her first serve to wrap up the opening set.
The Aussie’s frustration mounted as she quickly fell back a double break in the second to trail Bertens 0-3. Bertens stayed on track and carried her momentum, outhitting and outrunning the normally-tireless Gavrilova and breaking once more in the final game to take the match after a tidy hour-and-twenty-seven minutes.
Bertens will take on No.6 seed Simona Halep in the next round as she fights for a spot in the Rome final.
“She’s a great player, and she showed that last week in Madrid and already in the last few years,” Bertens said. “I haven’t played her in a while, though, but I know she’s in great shape and playing with great confidence.
“It’s gonna be a tough match, but I’m ready for it, ready for a big fight. The key is just to try to stay aggressive and really keep believing in my shots. That will be the key against Simona tomorrow.”