Wimbledon18

BERTENS RUNS THE RACE

by

Nick Nemeroff

In a match that lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes and involved 230 points, Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands outlasted five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-7, 8-6.

Bertens won a total of 124 points to Williams’ 106 points. The players combined to cover 3.24 miles of court over the duration of the match.

The grass-court pedigree of these two players entering this tournament could not have been more different. Venus has won this tournament a grand total of five times, whereas Bertens had won only three matches at SW19 in her career.

Bertens, who has forged the majority of her Grand Slam success at Roland Garros, did a tremendous job to transform her game so that it could deliver success on grass. After losing the second-set tiebreaker, it felt as if Venus was going to use her aggression and power to overwhelm her lower-ranked opponent.

While Venus did try to assert herself as the third set progressed, Bertens did a fabulous job ensuring that she did her share of dictating.

Bertens moved the ball around the box on serve, allowing herself to take control of points with her groundstrokes. She took her balls on early, moved Venus around the court with her spin-infused forehands, and created strong angles that opened up the court. She was persistently bold with her backhand, flattening it out throughout the match.

One area where Venus struggled near the end of the match was approaching the net. Bertens came up with several fabulous passing shots in the latter stages of the match. But Venus also had moments where Bertens provided her the opportunity to end the point with a volley or overhead, and Venus simply missed shots you would normally expect her to make.

Bertens approached the net 25 fewer times than Venus, but she won 76 percent of her net points, whereas Venus won 59 percent of her net points.

Bertens’ mental resilience was tested in this match. There were times where it appeared as though Bertens was going to allow her building frustration to boil over, but it never did. You could tell she was frustrated with herself for providing Venus too many opportunities to take control of points. After going down a break at 2-0 in the third set, it appeared Bertens was going to see her tournament end. Impressively, she was able to maintain her composure, create two breaks in the final set, and capture one of the biggest wins of her career.

DSC_3172_original.jpgFor Venus, having to overcome a set deficit in each of the first two rounds may have caught up to her on Friday, since she had to repeat the same effort.

As we have seen many times in this event, there are no foregone conclusions, no guaranteed wins, and there is always a reason to believe any player can win on any given day.

Kiki Bertens maintained that belief, and she was handsomely rewarded for it. Her prize: a first trip to Manic Monday at Wimbledon, which also doubles as a first trip to a fourth round at any major other than Roland Garros.

 

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