PARIS, France - Viktoria Kuzmova is through to the third round of Roland Garros for the first time after No.4 seed Kiki Bertens was forced to retire in the first set, trailing 3-1, 40-15.
A pre-tournament favorite, Bertens came into the clay Grand Slam having posted solid results over the last month. She lifted the biggest trophy of her career at the Madrid Open, and reached semifinals at Rome and Stuttgart. At the French capital, she had already scored a routine win against home favorite Pauline Parmentier, winning 6-3, 6-4 to advance into the second round.
A semifinalist here in 2016, Bertens looked right at home on Court Philippe Chatrier as she stepped out to face Slovak youngster Kuzmova for the third time in 2019. But while the pair’s matches in Dubai and Miami both went the way of Bertens, their second-round clash turned out a bit more complicated as she was forced to retire due to gastrointestinal illness.
“It’s really tough to see someone who really wants to win, struggling and not feeling well,” Kuzmova told WTA Insider afterwards. “I know that she’s a great player, nice girl, and I was feeling a little bit sad for her.”
“It’s great for me to be in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time. It’s a great feeling and I hope it gives me more motivation for this tournament and the future.”
Kuzmova quickly took control of the points, her attacking game producing winners off both wings as Bertens struggled to keep apace. The Slovak had two break points in Bertens’ first service game, and finally broke to love a few games later to take a 3-1 lead.
But in the next game, Bertens abruptly halted play mid-game, with Kuzmova leading 3-1, 40-15 and, after consulting with the physio and the tournament doctor, ultimately retired from the match.
As a result, Kuzmova advanced to the third round of the French Open for the first time, where she now awaits the winner between No.26 seed Johanna Konta and Lauren Davis.
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“I saw her play a couple of matches,” Kuzmova acknowledged. “I know she’s running really well and wants to play aggressive so I think it’s going to be a pretty good match.”