After the withdrawal of world number one Simona Halep, it is confirmed that world number 10 Kiki Bertens has successfully qualified for her first WTA Finals after a career breakthrough year. She has proven to be one of the most consistent players on the tour and has broken through the membrane of being labelled as a clay-court specialist having found success on hard courts and grass courts as well.
Career breakthrough year for Bertens
Ironically, it was a poor start to 2018 for Bertens, who owned a disappointing 4-7 win-loss record until March. However, it was once again the clay-court season which officially kickstarted the Dutch’s great year, as per the previous seasons as well. She saved match points against Madison Keys in a marathon thriller before tramping over Julia Goerges to claim the title at the Volvo Car Open, clinching her first-ever Premier title.
Her run did not just stop there though; she ousted Wozniacki, five-time Major champion Sharapova, and Garcia to reach the final of Mutua Madrid Open, the biggest final of her career. Her impressive runs finally sealed a long-awaited top-15 debut for Bertens, whose game showed tremendous improvement throughout the year.
Surprisingly, her best run at a Major this year came at Wimbledon. She upset five-time champion Venus Williams before stunning Karolina Pliskova to reach the quarterfinals and proved to others that she could excel on other surfaces as well.
Bertens’ impressive streak of results continued on the hard courts — with another two top-10 wins over Kvitova and Pliskova in Montreal resulting in yet another last eight finish. In what could be one of the best title runs this year, the Dutch went on to claim the title at the Western and Southern Open, the biggest title of her career. In the process, she rattled off four top-10 wins having saved a match point against Simona Halep in the final.
With a new career-high ranking, Bertens won her third title of the year at the Korea Open before she experienced a mini-slump at the major tournaments. She broke into the top-10 just weeks ago, but initially, she was out of contention to qualify for Singapore after her first-round exit in Moscow, but she is now confirmed as the eighth seed with Halep withdrawing.
Bertens happy to make debut in Singapore
Having reached the final of the doubles competition in Singapore last year, Bertens definitely understands the pressure faced while competing in this prestigious tournament where only the top eight players in the world are qualified to play. Bertens mentioned in an official statement, “I’m very happy with my season and to finish it off at the WTA Finals is the ultimate prize. I have great memories in Singapore from reaching the doubles final last year. I look forward to being back to compete in front of the amazing crowd.”