Kiki Bertens’, her second round opponent had pushed Stephens to over two hours and three sets again. Both gave award-winning performances with stinging down the lines, precision cross courts and unexpected drop shots. Singapore’s weather might have been very calm and comfortable, but inside on Center Court, Stephens and Bertens were covered with beads of perspiration often needing to wipe off from their gritty court play.
Stephens is definitely coming into each round with an advantage for she and Elina Svitolina are the only players of the eight who has won consecutive rounds. “It’s tough when you’re playing back-to-back Stephens had said.
She has a strong tennis resume but this year has capture one title, the Miami Open playing opposite Jelena Ostapenko and winning in straight sets. Stephens is playing with a definite prominence and aggression which torments her opponents.
Bertens has won two titles this season: The Western and Southern in Cincinnati and the Korean Open. But once players are on court, the magic they’ve shown in previous tournaments may not carry over to other events. This round robin play can be a benefit or grueling as losing doesn’t mean you pack your rackets and go until next year.
Players have to continue with the possibility of getting to the semifinal being great. The first set between Stephens and Bertens was a feisty mixture on both players’ part. It was suspenseful, ingenious, and brilliant. Bertens brought the opening set toa tiebreak as Stephens was leading 3-0.
But the Dutch woman had other ideas and had the stamina and strategy to come from behind to the tiebreak. It was unfortunate but the nervous unforced errors creeped in allowing Stephens to win the opening set 7-6. The second set Bertens must have promised herself not to make the same mistakes in the opening set and she whipped past Stephens at 5-1, letting her get one more game and then pushed the win to 6-2, making her forget she was the 2017 U.S.
Open winner. Bertens made her break points count and holding back on those unforced errors was the difference in her style of play from the first set. Bertens might have wanted the same result as in the second set, but was unable to keep up the consistency on hitting winners.
Stephens took her game up a notch and pounced on every weakened or vulnerable rally that the Dutch woman had. Bertens fought hard to get that second round robin win on the scoreboard but the match was clearly on Stephens’ racket another three setter at 7-6, 2-6, 6-3.
She had given herself a good towel wipe off and the crowd waved toher for a job well done and will anxiously await the next round.