'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands -- World No.4 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands fought back from a dire deficit in the first set and withstood an overnight rain delay to oust her compatriot, wild card Arantxa Rus, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round of the Libéma Open on Friday.
"It is tough always to play another Dutch girl, we know each other really well," Bertens said, after her victory. "I’m just happy to be in the quarterfinals here."
Top-seeded Bertens found herself down 1-5 in the opening stanza and faced two set points before reeling off six games in a row to earn the set on Thursday, then closed out the straight-set victory over her 132nd-ranked fellow Dutchwoman the next day after play had been suspended overnight at 4-3 in the second set.
Bertens won nearly three-quarters of points on her first serve in the meeting, and hit five aces, although she also fired eight double faults. The top seed converted five break points out of 13 chances, while Rus went 3-for-7 on break points. The match required 93 minutes of play which were spread over a 22-hour period.
Bertens will have to come back onto court later on Friday for her quarterfinal match against Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia, who will also be playing her second match of the day. 2017 Libéma Open finalist Vikhlyantseva dispatched Spanish qualifier Paula Badosa Gibert, 6-1, 6-1, earlier on Friday, as their second-round clash had not even gotten off the ground on Thursday.
Bertens won her only prior meeting with Vikhlyantseva, in a final-set tiebreak at the Libéma Open last year. "I played [Vikhlyantseva] last year here in the first round, which was a really long battle," Bertens stated. "She’s a great grass-court player, so it’s going to be a tough one, but I’m ready for it."
The match began with an incredible start by Rus, while Bertens struggled with numerous unforced errors. In the opening game, Bertens saved two break points only to give Rus a third after back-to-back double faults, and Rus converted that chance with a forehand winner. Rus eventually picked up a 4-1, double-break lead after another double fault by Bertens.
Rus extended her lead to 5-1 and held a set point in that game before Bertens swatted it away with big serving and held for 5-2. Serving for the set, a strong crosscourt forehand led Rus to a second set point. But, suddenly, it was the wild card’s turn to fire consecutive double faults, and Bertens eventually broke with powerful forehands to pull to 5-3.
An abrupt change of momentum occurred from this juncture forward, as Bertens reclaimed the pinpoint aggression which has led her into the Top 5, while Rus’s miscues increased. Bertens leveled the set at 5-5 by cracking open a rally with a dropshot winner on break point, coming all the way back from her two-break deficit.
The top seed picked off nine points in a row to reach triple set point on Rus’s serve at 6-5. Although Bertens missed a return wide on her first chance, the second opportunity was taken after Rus blasted a forehand long, giving Bertens a sixth straight game and a successful first-set fightback.
In the second set, Rus saved three break points to hold for 3-3, but Bertens quickly reached double break point two games later, putting her on the precipice of taking a crucial lead. However, it was at that exact spot where the skies opened, and play was paused, eventually leading to an overnight delay.
When the players returned to action nearly a full day later, Rus erased both of those break points. Bertens, though, claimed a third chance in that game after a backhand miscue by Rus, and the top seed converted that opportunity by forcing an error with a deep forehand. Bertens subsequently served out the match in style after just five minutes on court on Friday.