LONDON, Great Britain – World No.54 Barbora Strycova is into the fourth round of Wimbledon, having eliminated No.4 seed Kiki Bertens, 7-5, 6-1.
The Czech, who is playing in her 16th edition of The Championships, progressed to the second week for just the second time with a confident display of grass-court tennis, in which she successfully stifled the big hitting of the World No.4.
"I think the key was to focus on my game, to play my serve and volley and slice a little bit," the 2014 quarterfinalist said after the match.
"She is a really powerful player and she doesn't really give so many mistakes. When you mix it up, she wasn't really, I felt, confident from the baseline and she started doing some mistakes. This was the game plan, and I was serving very well.
"I was watching before the match when they on the screen how many appearances I had, and I was smiling...like, 'Wow, 16,' snd she had, like, four," Strycova said with a laugh.
"I love to play on grass...and as you get older, you are understanding your game more and maybe I try to enjoy it even more, so maybe that's why I am playing good and winning some matches. It is a great feeling, and I try to enjoy every moment of it."
The opening set could have been won by either player, but the Czech deservedly claimed it before taking command in the second.
Early breaks were exchanged in the formative stages of the first set, but though either player could have taken the ascendancy thereafter, it was Strycova’s game that was having the most impact.
Determinant in the destination of the set - and indeed the match - was a mammoth ninth game, which accounted for a solid proportion of the 65-minute duration of the opener.
Bertens, whose big groundstrokes were kept on a leash by the clever slicing of her opponent, fashioned six break points but was unable to tame her backhand as each was repeatedly squandered before the game was whisked away from her after eight deuces.
"I think the key [in that game was] I served really good, so it was really helping me today," Strycova said.
"I was so happy to win the first set because we played over an hour, and I was tired. When you are tired, but win that set, it helps your confidence even more.
"I was like, 'Play the same and move even more,' to show her I was still there and had the energy even though I didn't feel like it. I was playing a solid match today.
"I felt really good on the court and I believed in myself, in the things I worked on and I was also volleying some great volleys today. It was just a really good match from me."
Strycova was frustrated in her pursuit of successive set points in the following game thanks to some brilliant work by the Dutchwoman, who seemed initially to have rescued a similar situation in the 12th game with equally excellent play. However, the Czech took her fifth opportunity.
Irritable at times during the first, Strycova appeared more focused having grasped the advantage. Her net play, which had been a key factor in the first set, became even more decisive as she broke to love.
Bertens became increasingly tied in knots, and though she fended off three points to avoid going a double break down, she eventually succumbed to the craft of the 33-year-old, who served out confidently to claim an impressive scalp.
In her first fourth-round match since 2014, she will face Elise Mertens.
"Elise is a really, really good, amazing player. She doesn't give you free points, so you have to work [for] it," Strycova said.
"For me, it's about my game and focusing on my game. If it works, good, but she can also respond to it very well. She has really good strikes and she serves really well. I know a little bit about her, so it's going to be a big battle."