WTA Cincinnati: Kiki Bertens claims her biggest title after saving match point against Simona Halep

The world number 17 struggled in the opener but came through to defeat the world number one.

WTA Cincinnati: Kiki Bertens claims her biggest title after saving match point against Simona Halep
Kiki Bertens celebrates the biggest title of her career (John Hoin/VAVEL USA)

It was a faceoff between one of the game's best hard court players against one who had just made her first singles hard court final. Kiki Bertens and Simona Halep battled it out for the Western & Southern Open title. 

Bertens looked overwhelmed in the opening set but turned it around to win the biggest title of her career in Cincinnati, taking it 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-2. 

Halep Dominates Opening Set

The top seed was the aggressor early on as Bertens was misfiring. It was a break to start the match for Halep. Bertens shook that off with a backhand down the line to set up 0-30. Halep held her off to hold at 30. Bertens got on the board, holding at 30 as the server was looking comfortable when given the opportunity. 

Halep's hold at love proved to be a crucial point as she had established her dominance in the set and really had her grip firmly on the set after breaking at her first time of asking for a 5-2 lead after the Dutchwoman knocked a backhand into the net. 

Despite the pop off the ground Bertens was showing, Halep was just more dominant in the longer rallies, being able to get more balls back and force her opponent to hit that one extra ball before forcing the error. 13 unforced errors and only 50 percent of first serves in from Bertens were the telling stats from this set. 

Halep celebrates winning the opening set
Halep celebrates winning the opening set (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)

 Bertens Saves Match Point To Send It The Distance

In her opening service game of the set, Halep was down 0-40. She did not however, stray away from her brand of tennis, continuing to find the corners as she saved all three of those break chances. Bertens finally made her mark in the second, getting up 15-40 in the fourth game after a drop shot winner. She broke for the 3-1 lead as she upped her level looking to send this match into a third set. 

An error-filled game from Bertens allowed Halep to break back for 3-4. Bertens saved another break point in the ninth game, ending the run of three straight games for the Romanian, forcing Halep to serve to stay in the set.

It was the top seed's turn to dig in, saving set point before holding for five-all. The second set went into a tiebreak. Mini-breaks came often in this breaker with the world number 17 going up 4-1. Halep came back to get up 6-5 on the Bertens serve. The Dutchwoman held her nerve, coming through with a big forehand and took the tiebreaker 8-6 after Halep knocked a backhand into the net.

Bertens' forehand played a key role in her comeback (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)
Bertens' forehand played a key role in her comeback (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)

Bertens Notches Biggest Career Title

Three breaks of serve started the set with Halep breaking back for one-all after her forehand found the corner, and Bertens breaking for the lead once again after Halep sent her shot long. 

Bertens held at love to give her some insurance at 3-1 up, and an erratic game, capped off by a Bertens forehand return winner down the line really put the Dutchwoman in control up 4-1 as Halep looked burned out. 

Halep had chances to get one of the two breaks back at 15-40 in the sixth game, setting it up with a tweener which saw Bertens dump a slice into the net. The world number 17 held her off to go up 5-1. Halep held, forcing Bertens to serve for the match, but it was cool, calm, and collected from Bertens who finished it off with the ace to claim the biggest title of her career.

Kiki Bertens raising the title
Kiki Bertens raising the title (Noel Alberto/VAVEL USA)