INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA -- No.7 seed Kiki Bertens moved into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in her career, following a challenging 7-6(10), 6-4 victory over Great Britain's Johanna Konta on Sunday.
"It was really tough today, I would say," Bertens told the press, after her victory. "I think we were both not playing our best tennis, but I’m just really happy to be in the fourth round."
World No.45 Konta had won two of their three previous meetings, including their last match at Cincinnati in 2017. But Bertens, now at a career-high ranking of World No.7, maneuvered through a grueling first set before finishing up the win in just under two hours.
Bertens, the ace leader of the 2019 season so far, had a clean match, with 27 winners to 24 unforced errors. Konta's 23 winners were undone by 42 unforced errors, and the Brit only converted one of her four break points in the clash.
Bertens will face former World No.1 Garbine Muguruza in the round of 16. Muguruza reached the fourth round after advancing past her fellow former World No.1 Serena Williams, when the ailing American retired during the second set of their encounter. Bertens holds a 3-1 lead in their head-to-head, but Muguruza won their most recent match in 2018.
"It’s going to be a tough match," said Bertens. "Konta today, she can play really aggressive, and I think with Muguruza it’s the same. So I have to serve well, go for my shots myself again where I can, and hopefully play a little better than today."
Bertens used a variety of different shots to take the early lead in the opening frame, holding for 2-1 with a dropshot winner on game point, then breaking for 3-1 after a forecourt rally ended with a volley error by Konta. But the Brit was unfazed, and stayed sturdy while Bertens fired multiple errors to drop serve in the very next game.
Konta used her powerful forehand and serve to stave off two break points and hold for 3-3, and from that point forward, no break points occurred in the remainder of the set. The last three games of the set proper were closed out with aces, as both players were using their delivery spectacularly as they moved into the tiebreak.
The breaker was extremely competitive, with winners from all sections of the court by Bertens and Konta. Bertens held the early mini-break at 5-3, but Konta knocked off a volley to get back on serve as they progressed to 6-6.
Each player held three set points at the tail end of the tiebreak, but they continued to dominate with their serves until 11-10. There, on the Dutchwoman’s third set point, Konta pushed a backhand unforced error into the net to give Bertens a crucial one-set lead after 65 tense minutes.
"I had some set points, then she hit some good shots, and then I had [more], and then I was trying to go for it, but not really working out," Bertens admitted. "It was tough and I was just really happy that I won it in the end."
In the second set, there were no breaks of service up to 4-4. In that game, Konta fended off three break points and held two game points, before Bertens garnered a fourth break chance with a dropshot winner off of her opponent’s dropshot. Konta finally succumbed with a double fault, handing the crucial protracted game to Bertens.
Serving for the win, Bertens needed to stave off a break point and let two match points slip away. But the third time was the charm as the Dutchwoman watched a Konta forehand sail wide, screaming with delight as she booked a first-ever trip to the Indian Wells round of 16.