By Ros Satar at the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne

  • Kiki Bertens [3] def. Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3 6-3
EASTBOURNE, UK – Kiki Bertens is not quite having a love-affair with the grass but is managing to puzzle her way through the draw.

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Kiki Bertens [3] def. Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3 6-3

 

With a half-smile when reminding herself of the windy conditions we get sometimes in Eastbourne, Kiki Bertens is quietly going about her business on the coast. She handled the feisty Yulia Putintseva with ease in her opening round having benefited from a bye and starting to put away the disappointment of not being able to lift the Den Bosch title last week in her ‘home’ tournament, this week might bring dividends.

That being said, she is not quite indulging in a love-affair with the grass – they are not even at the dating regularly stage!

“It’s coming, it’s coming. No, it was, like, on days for today, for me, it’s not really fun to play tennis. It’s so tough with the wind and with the grass and then slipping again. I don’t know. It was tough today out there, but I got the win, so another chance tomorrow to like it a bit more. We’re sorting things out (Smiling)”

 

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As well as the nuances of the surface, the shortness of the grass court season and the perils of playing the week before a Slam starts, there is a lot for the Dutchwoman to balance as she looks to make up for the disappointment of having to retire with illness just four games into the second round of Roland Garros, when many had tipped her to be in contention for the title.

She said: “I feel like if you start a tournament, you play to win it. Otherwise, yeah, you should not play it. That’s my opinion. So I think it’s only a good thing. Like, if you play a lot of matches here, you get a lot of points again. If you don’t play, it doesn’t make any guarantee that you play well in Wimbledon.

“So, I think every match — and for me, personally, I need matches to be better. Last week I had a week off, so it’s all good for me, and I really like to play the week before a Grand Slam, yes.”

If you don’t know Eastbourne, it still has the reputation of being God’s Waiting Room with a largely elderly population. As such, restaurants look quizzically when we journalists arrive around 9pm in search of food only to be informed the kitchen is closed!

 So, what does the Dutchwoman do to unwind after matches?

“It’s just dinner with the team and relax a little bit again. I have to still finish my puzzle which I have here, so, yes, and then maybe watch some soccer. Yesterday was the Dutch team. They won, so it was good.

“I like to do puzzles, so this week I brought, like, a 2000 piece one. It’s almost done. So yeah, I have to stay long; otherwise I could not finish it. That’s another good thing, yes (smiling).”

Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka are scheduled third on Centre Court, with play beginning at 11am BST.

 

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