By Jane Voigt
Bertens Beats Keys in First Semifinal of Day
Daniel Island, S.C., April 8, 2018, 2 p.m. — Madison Keys was disappointed, but not dejected after losing an ever-so-close semifinal match to Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(5).
“In the first set I played a sloppy first game,” Keys told the press. “That early break could have done something. But the biggest thing, I think, was at the end. I don’t think I was 100 percent playing to win.”
Keys held two match points in the third set.
“Maybe if I’d stepped up a little bit more, maybe she would have made an error,” Keys began. “But it’s always that tough question. I was definitely really nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with those nerves.”
Keys carried three, second-round loses into the Volvo Car Open: Miami, Indian Wells, and Doha. She believes that the more she puts herself in winning positions, the more comfortable she’ll become.
Bertens defense was another obstacle for Keys.
“I would say the biggest thing is she’s so good at defense,” Key said. “She’s really good at being offensive and going for her shots, too, but she’s just [does] such a good job at resetting the point over-and-over again. Every time she gets pulled out wide, every ball lands almost on the baseline.”
It’s no secret that clay is not Keys’ favorite surface.
“It’s one of those things where I know I can play on clay,” she said. “It’s just taking a deep breath mostly. I’m excited to go to Europe this year and play on clay. It’s always really nice to have a good solid week at the start of it. I’ve added Stuttgart and I’m going to Fed Cup. Hopefully this is the year that I say that I love it [clay].”
Keys admits she has improved on the surface and tries to play more conservatively and “not go for things too early.” But the main battle is with her mind.
“It’s something I have to constantly remind myself … okay, you’re not going to win the point in two balls,” she said. “Like you have to build the point. You’ll even see it in matches where I play great first set building the point, then the second set all of a sudden I’m red-lining off balls that are by the back fence. So I feel like I’ve gotten better at re-setting and trying to play points better, but it’s definitely an internal battle.”
The win for Bertens was a big one, though, as she waits to play the biggest final of her career in a couple short hours.
Goerges Defeats Sevastova in Second Semifinal of Day
Daniel Island, S.C., April 8, 2018, 3 p.m. — Finally, we have a final!
Kiki Bertens and Julia Goerges will battle it out for their first Volvo Car Open championship, beginning later this afternoon after Goerges defeated Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(5), 6-3. The match had been stopped yesterday at 4-4 in the first set due to rain, which cancelled the remaining matches for the day.
Bertens leads Goerges in their head-to-head record, 1-0. Bertens has a strong record in finals, 4-1, as well. She scored her best Grand Slam result at Roland Garros, 2016, when she advanced to the semifinal and lost to eventual champion Serena Williams. All three of her top-ten wins have come on clay, two at Roland Garros: Angelique Kerber (No. 3) and Timea Bacsinszky (No.9).
Bertens lost in an early round to Venus Williams in Miami. The Dutch native was happy to get to Charleston and start training on clay, her favorite surface.
“The clay is helping me a little bit with my forehand and with my heavy strokes,” Kiki said after defeating Alize Cornet in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 7-5. “My level is maybe 20 percent better, but in my head I feel like I’m 80 percent better [on clay].”
Goerges surely has an edge in final, having beaten Sevastova in straight sets. Bertens was on court with Keys for close to 3 hours. Additionally, Goerges is 5-7 in WTA finals.
Kiki Bertens Wins Biggest Title in Charleston
Daniel Island, S.C., April 8, 2018, 6 p.m. — “It’s always tough when you have to play two [matches] in one day, but I think all of us were just kind of mentally prepared for that to happen, even yesterday,” Madison Keys said earlier today.
And that’s what Kiki Bertens (No.12) and Julia Goerges (No.5) did today in order to advance to the final match of the tournament. Usually scheduled for a 1 p.m. start, their championship match didn’t hit the dirt until 5 p.m.
Bertens, though, came off the mark quickly and kept the pressure up throughout the match, defeating Goerges 6-2, 6-1, in less than an hour. The title for Bertens is her biggest and brings her to 5-1 in finals. She also became the first woman from the Netherlands to win in Charleston.
Bertens only dropped one set this week, which was against Keys today. She has been the more consistent and happier player, given the surface which is her favorite. But when she stepped up to the baseline at 5-1 in the second, her thoughts wandered.
“I was still like, oh, maybe because I had some match points already at 5-0, I was thinking maybe [I’d] lose this match,” Bertens said, smiling. “So I just focus point by point, and when the last ball went out I was just so happy. And, then, it really kicked in.”
Goerges, though, really never showed up today. Her biggest asset, her serve, was off. She missed routine rally shots. At one point she dumped a duck-of-a-drop shot into the net, covering her mouth afterward in disbelief. Her footwork was sluggish and she didn’t accelerate her racquet head.
“Yeah, I think the semifinal today took a lot of mental effort from my side,” Goerges admitted. “I think one hour and 45 [minutes] wasn’t really quite enough to recover and be as well as I wanted to be prepared for a final. But I have to take it. I tried to do the best I could, but obviously wasn’t the way I was planning to play.”
Goerges, though, gave credit to Bertens who she has known for some time and has played doubles with.
“She played very solid,” Goerges began. “She didn’t give a lot of mistakes, so I had to really had to work for every point.”
Goerges leaves Charleston tomorrow and looks forward to ice cream, coffee and a nice warm bed once she arrives in Germany.
“Well tonight there is a big ice cream coming; that’s the first thing,” Goerges said, smiling. “Then I have an early flight tomorrow to Washington. Then I have to wait 10 hours there to get my connections. Then I take another connection in Frankfurt. Then I still have to drive two hours from Prague home. And if I’m there I’ll take my bike and go in the city and have another ice cream and nice coffee.”
Bertens deftness on clay, during the final, was lovely to witness. She slid well, intuitively anticipated shots, and held steady when championship points were on the line.
“I know I can play good on clay, but it was just a great feeling,” Bertens said about her win. “But I think in the final Julia didn’t play her best, but still, I was just trying to play aggressive where I could, just to hit some balls in the court when she was playing, making some errors. So I think overall I did a really good job.”
Unlike Goerges who looks forward to coffee and ice cream, Bertens will celebrate tonight with wine.
“I think I will have a glass of wine, yeah,” she said. “Probably I will be dead because it was a really tough day and a tough week. But, we’re going to go for a nice dinner and celebrate maybe a little bit and then fly home and take some well-deserved rest the rest of the week.”