By Ros Satar at the Shiseido WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China

  • Kiki Bertens [ALT] def. Ashleigh Barty 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
  • Gets first win over Barty in five tries
SHENZHEN, CHINA – First alternate Kiki Bertens stunned top seed and World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty to keep the Red Group in flux.

 

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Kiki Bertens [ALT] def. Ashleigh Barty 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

It has been a long end to the season for Kiki Bertens, who found herself suddenly back in playing mode. She was in the final mix for the last spot here, side by side with Belinda Bencic, who won Moscow and secured her spot, sending the Dutchwoman to Zhuhai.

As it turns out, it was no bad thing as Bertens made it to the final but had to start with a tough match-up as she was 0-4 against Ashleigh Barty. With the Aussie having wrapped up the year-end World No. 1 spot. It was nervy start by both players with five straight breaks of serve from the second game, leaving Barty a nudge ahead as she wrapped up the first set.

The breaks continued apace in the second set with four on the bounce, this time giving a lot less weary Bertens a route back into the match, as she broke Barty a third time before serving to level the match.

The start was all Bertens, breaking twice at the start of the set and holding on for a 4-0 lead. Barty battled to get on the board and then broke to narrow the gap to just a single break but it proved too much to overturn the deficit, as Bertens claimed not only her first win over the Aussie but kept the scenarios in the mix.

 

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Barty: ‘She’s going to make you pay’

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Even though Barty had stolen a march on Bertens every time they played, she knew that their matches are challenges, and perhaps a few weaknesses in her own game opened the door for Bertens to march right in.

Barty said: “When you give a player of Kiki’s calibre a chance to get back into the match not once but twice, she’s going to make you pay. That’s probably the most disappointing thing. Twice in the second set I was up a break and wasn’t able to consolidate on mine.

“Obviously a tough one but understanding kind of the momentum swings in that match was probably the biggest thing.”

With the result of the second match going the way of Bencic, it means that it is all to play for in Thursday’s matches.

Barty continued: “Overall, we know we’re still alive in the tournament. That’s the beauty of round-robin. It’s a different format. But it’s not going to stress me out too much. We’ll hit the practice court tomorrow and come back on Thursday, try to play for a spot in the semis.”

 

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Bertens: ‘We see how far I go’

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Bertens win coupled with Bencic later this evening means that all four players have a chance to qualify and that means Bertens has a chance to try and make successive semi-finals at the very least at the season-ending finals.

Although coming here as an alternate meant she also could have just as easily been sitting around just watching all the play – so on balance what has she been hoping for?

She said: “To be sure, I was okay sitting on the couch. I was really tired. But then yesterday I just hit like for five or 10 minutes. I just rested completely. I think today I felt already much better. Of course, it’s not like after one day that you’re completely back in full energy. Of course, you’re like, Okay, one more, one more. That keeps me going. We see how far I can go.

“I think everything this week is extra, of course. I’m a little bit lucky to get in. Unfortunate for Naomi, of course. I just take her spot, try to perform as good as I can, try to give all the energy what’s left in me. Yeah, I just beat world No. 1, so it’s just a really good feeling, yeah.

“I still have a chance to make the semis. I’m just going to prepare as good as possible, rest again really well, then prepare for my match against Belinda. Yeah, may the best one win.”

The final round-robin for the Red group takes place on Thursday.

 

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