WTA Madrid second round preview: Timea Bacsinszky vs Kiki Bertens

Former world number nine Timea Bacsinszky has tumbled down the rankings due to injuries, which has been a big part of her downfall. The Swiss number one has reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2015, along with a semifinal finish at Roland Garros in 2015, backing it up last year with a run to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, Bacsinskzy skipped the first couple of weeks of the 2017 season in Australia due to niggling injuries, returning to action at the Australian Open with no matches under her belt. However, Bacsinszky matched her best run at the Australian Open by advancing to the third round, losing to Daria Gavrilova in a three-set thriller. Nevertheless, the WTA tour is back on European clay courts, and Bacsinszky will be looking to make amends for loss time at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The 27-year-old has only competed in four events in 2017. She retired from her first round match with Yulia Putintseva in Doha. Furthermore, Bacsinszky's best result to date in 2017 was a fourth round finish at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. The 2015 French Open semifinalist recorded good wins over Monica Niculescu and her second round opponent Kiki Bertens. Unfortunately, injury intervened and she withdrew at 1-5 down in the opening set in her match with Karolina Pliskova. Bacsinszky failed to defend her title in Rabat after losing to Catherine Bellis in three gruelling sets in the second round.

Bertens is at a career-high ranking of 19, and despite playing a lot more tennis than Bacsinszky this year, the Dutch number one has a 9-12 win-loss record. Last year's French Open semifinalist suffered dismal first-round exits at the hands of Lauren Davis, Varvara Lepchenko and Annika Beck in Auckland, the Australian Open and St.Petersburg respectively. However, the 25-year-old advanced to the quarterfinals in Hobart but lost to Elise Mertens.

The world number 19 snapped her three-match losing streak at the BNP Paribas Open as one of the top 32 seeded players, she gained a bye and recorded a good victory over Belinda Bencic but lost to Bacsinszky in a three-set match in the third round. Bertens suffered a disappointing second round exit in Miami to Risa Ozaki. Her clay court season so far has slightly improved with a third round finish in Charleston losing to Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, eventual champion Francesca Schiavone got the better of her in her second quarterfinal of the year in Bogota. More misery ensued for Bertens in Stuttgart losing to two-time Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round.

Bertens is looking to reach the third round in Madrid for the first time (Photo by Adam Pretty / Bongarts)
Bertens is looking to reach the third round in Madrid for the first time (Photo by Adam Pretty / Bongarts)

How they got here

Bacsinszky began her Mutua Madrid Open campaign against reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, who has historically struggled to perform at her home event in Madrid. The experienced Bacsinskzy carved out an impressive, comfortable, 6-1, 6-3 victory over the fifth-seeded Spaniard. Whereas, Bertens defeated former top ten player Ekaterina Makarova, 6-1, 7-6 (4) to reach the second round at the Caja Magica.

Their history

The two unseeded players have met on four occasions with their head-to-head encounters being split at two wins apiece. Bacsinszky won their first significant meeting in the first round of the US Open in 2014 before Bertens withdrew, 6-7 (7), 4-3. However, their next meeting was two years later once again at a Grand Slam in the quarterfinals of the French Open.

Bacsinszky was looking to emulate her semifinal finish from the previous year when she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams. However, this time it was a different story as Bertens dispatched the Swiss number one, 7-5, 6-2 advancing to her first Grand Slam semifinal in Paris. Bertens suffered a similar fate as Bacsinszky as the Dutch star lost to Williams. The 25-year-old won their second meeting on the clay courts in Gstaad, 7-5, 7-6 (1) but the 2015 French Open semifinalist won their best encounter to date in the third round at Indian Wells. Bacsinszky overcame Bertens, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8) saving multiple match points in the process.

Bacsinskzy is looking to equal her third round finish in Madrid from last year (Photo by Denis Doyle / Getty Images)
Bacsinskzy is looking to equal her third round finish in Madrid from last year (Photo by Denis Doyle / Getty Images)

Who wins?

This is a great opportunity for both of these players to seize the opportunity and have a good run in this tournament as this section of the draw is wide open with Muguruza out and second seed Karolina Pliskova both who have fallen by the wayside. The BNP Paribas Open champion Elena Vesnina, the 12th seed lost to last year's quarterfinalist Irina-Camelia Begu. Bacsinszky is a crafty clay court player as the Swiss star likes to throw in drop shots and her forehand and backhands are both strong, although her serve is not very strong but Bertens, who's a fine returner on clay, will be looking to take advantage.

Bertens has a good forehand and her serve isn't too bad either, furthermore, the Dutch number one has tremendous movement on clay courts. She performed well at the French Open as she was motivated by the Dutch Tennis Federation to go far at Roland Garros as she was fighting for a spot in the Olympics.

This second round match will be the final match scheduled on the Arantxa Sanchez Vicario court, and the winner of this encounter has a winnable match in the third round against Begu or Bertens' regular doubles partner, Johanna Larsson.

Prediction: Bacsinszky in three sets.