The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Road to Rogers Cup: Kiki keeps her cool to claim Madrid Open crown

May 11, 2019

Kiki Bertens banished the ghosts of last year’s final loss to Petra Kvitova by beating Simona Halep to win the 2019 Madrid Open on Saturday. The 27-year-old, who didn’t lose a set all tournament, lifted the trophy following a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Halep, denying the reigning Rogers Cup presented by National Bank champion a return to the World No. 1 spot in the process.

Halep forced the first break of the match when she went 40-15 up on Bertens’ serve early in the first set. She made no mistake in taking the opportunity, sending a powerful forehand return beyond her opponent’s reach to take a 3-1 lead. But that was only the start of an extraordinary period which saw the Madrid crowd witness four consecutive breaks of serve, two for each player.

Bertens finally put a stop to the bedlam when she held her serve to make it four-all before keeping her composure to break Halep for the third time in a row to take a lead for the first time. Serving for the first set, last year’s beaten finalist held her nerve, sealing the deciding game by forcing a Halep error at 40-15.

Clearly high on confidence, Bertens came out on fire at the start of the second set, winning a fifth consecutive game and breaking Halep’s serve again to boot. Nerves looked to rear themselves, though, as Bertens dropped a game on her own serve – but they weren’t around for long as she fought back to claim the next game and regain her lead.

There was controversy in the eighth game of the second set when Bertens, 15-30 down on her own serve, hit a shot which was going long but instead hit Halep in the midriff, meaning the 27-year-old from the Netherlands won the point. The momentum that provided saw Bertens go on to win the game.

A few minutes later, she was serving for the title. Having been denied on her first and second match points, Bertens showed incredible poise on her third. A powerful serve was followed by a Halep error as Bertens claimed her first Premier Mandatory championship.

(Feature photo: Madrid Open)