By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati

  • Kiki Bertens def. Simona Halep [1] 2-6 7-6(6) 6-2
  • Ends Simona Halep’s nine match winning streak
CINCINNATI, USA – Kiki Bertens claimed her biggest title to date, as well as catapulting into the reckoning for the season-ending finale in Singapore after beating World No. 1 Simona Halep for the Western & Southern Open title.

 

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Kiki Bertens def. Simona Halep [1] 2-6 7-6(6) 6-2

The tank finally ran empty for Simona Halep as she struggled to keep up with the Kiki Bertens as she capped off an outstanding run this week to claim her biggest title to date, and her first hard court title.

Certainly, at the start of the match, the nerves looked evident, and Halep looked like she was on a mission as the pair traded breaks in the first three games before Halep settled the quicker, jumping out to a 4-1 lead.

Although Bertens managed to get another game on the board, the first set was Halep’s by a comfortable margin. She managed to regroup through, starting to put more pressure on Halep’s serve at the start of the third set, and rewarded with a break, but the Romanian’s fighting spirit was not done yet, clawing back the break to get things back on an even keel.

Halep even had a match point in the tie-break before Bertens tipped the balance once more to take the second set, and from that point the tide was turned firmly in Bertens’ favour. With a lot of stake for both, as Halep was trying to win the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati back to back, breaks came quick and fast in the first three games of the set. But it was Bertens who maybe took advantage of a quickly fading Halep to grab a 4-1 lead that was just a step too far for Halep to close.

 

Halep: I couldn’t fight anymore

Simona Halep at her post-match press conference after the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018

Simona Halep at her post-match press conference after the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The World No. 1 admitted that she was running on empty towards the end of the match and being taken to a decider left her spent.

Halep said: “I had match ball. So I was there. Didn’t take my chance. So in the third set I was empty and I couldn’t fight anymore. It’s been great, great performance. After a long break, I came, and I played good tennis. No doubts that I’m really happy about that. About emotional part, I’m a little bit upset because I couldn’t manage better today, but that’s it. I’m like this,

and I have to work more (smiling).

“We played many rallies, and it was very physical match. That’s why the end I couldn’t make it anymore. I was also — I can say I gave up, because I didn’t have energy left. But she played really well, and she really deserves to win that, this title, because her level was very high.

“This year was much better, and my tennis was much better. Everything was better. So I’m not making a drama, but I’m upset a little bit on myself.”

 

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Bertens: ‘Anything is possible’

Kiki Bertens after winning the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018

Kiki Bertens after winning the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Bertens has proved her clay court credentials time and again but conquering the hard courts had proved to be challenge, even at the start of this year. But having been a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2016, and with some good progress on grass, it seems that at last the Dutchwoman has found a way to bring her game to multiple surfaces, instead of just biding her time for the clay court swing.

She said, after her match:” I think it’s a good feeling that, like, after a set that still anything is possible. My body was still feeling good after the first set. And I know that it could only be better, like, from my side from hitting the ball. So, yeah, I was still confident.

“I had to run too much on the court, and she’s really good at that. So, I was, like, Okay, there is only one chance and you have to play a little bit more aggressive, go a little bit more for your returns and for your serve, and, yeah, that was working.”

The uprush of emotions for Bertens was evident as she cried on coach Raemon Sluiter’s shoulder after the match.

She said: “[I was proud] that I just played so many matches and just keep on going, so many great wins, and that I could really enjoy it. Winning a title like this, my first hard court title, and then against No. 1 of the world, getting my career high on Monday. I don’t know. It’s just coming everything together, I guess.

“It’s such a great feeling that you can play on other surfaces really well, as well, and that you can, yeah, win tournaments like this, also.

“I’m just going to enjoy this moment. I know anything is still possible. Also, for New York, there is such a lot of great girls that can play really well. It can also be over there after one round. But we see.”

The US Open takes place between 27 August and 9 September.

 

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