PARIS, France – No.4 seed Kiki Bertens made short work of Pauline Parmentier to move into the second round of the French Open with a 6-3, 6-4 victory.
With more clay court wins than any other player over the last six years, the Dutchwoman arrived at Roland Garros as one of the favorites to go all the way and treated the challenge of Parmentier, who was seeking a fourth successive appearance in the second round of her home Grand Slam, with the utmost severity.
Indeed, the Frenchwoman had won all three previous meetings between the players, though the latest of these was in 2016 and all had been on hard courts.
Bertens, at a career-best ranking of WTA World No.4, began with the intensity that suggested she was in no mood to suffer a fourth straight defeat against an opponent playing her 15th successive French Open.
Even the strong backing of the home crowd could not help Parmentier, the WTA World No.66, deal with the power on her opponent’s groundstrokes, which saw Bertens, the champion in Madrid, establish a break at the first opportunity and threaten to add to it in each game thereafter.
By contrast, Parmentier was working off scraps as the big serve coming down from the other end of the court was relentless in its intensity. When Bertens was making her first delivery, she won 90% of the points behind it, and though two break chances did present themselves in the sixth game, these were saved in formidable style.
Despite the impressive tenacity of the Frenchwoman, who was on the wrong end of all the lengthier exchanges and appeared to be forced into covering miles of baseline, the first set went the way of the aggressor after 46 minutes.
Parmentier’s determination to hang tough was best illustrated when facing break point early in the second set. Bertens had an apparently routine backhand put away, but it was tracked down brilliantly by the 33-year-old, who produced a stunning passing shot, which was then matched by a winner onto the baseline to confirm the hold.
This was to prove her strongest spell of the match, but while she was starting to win some of the longer skirmishes, the scoreboard reflected that her opponent was still largely in command.
With nearly 30 minutes of the second set played, Bertens had something tangible for her work as she earned the break, benefitting from a double fault and then a tame forehand into the net to take total control.
This proved the set’s decisive moment as quarter of an hour later Bertens established three match points and claimed her place in the second round at the first opportunity as she sent down a powerful backhand that kissed the outside of the tramline before speeding into the back wall.
Viktoria Kuzmova, who defeated Alizé Cornet in straight sets, is up next.