Kiki Bertens boosts French Open chances as she beats Caroline Garcia to make the Madrid Open final

Hannah Wilks in WTA 11 May 2018
  • Kiki Bertens will face Petra Kvitova or Karolina Pliskova in the final of the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open
  • Bertens defeated world no. 7 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-2 in just 66 minutes at the Caja Magica
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 
Kiki Bertens celebrates victory at the Mutua Madrid Open (OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

Kiki Bertens brushed aside the challenge of Caroline Garcia to reach the biggest final of her career at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Watch and bet on tennis live from Madrid at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 

Dutchwoman Bertens continues to prove she’s a force to be reckoned with on clay courts as she backed up defeats of Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova with a 6-2, 6-2 demolition of France’s Garcia in Friday’s semifinals at the Caja Magica.

Seventh-seeded Garcia had not dropped a set at the Madrid Open and had only had her serve broken four times in four matches as the French Open hopeful reached the second Premier Mandatory-level semifinal of her career, but she was reduced to impotent frustration by Bertens’s command performance on Friday.

It took Bertens just 66 minutes to wrap up a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Garcia, breaking twice in each set and never looking back. She will face either Petra Kvitova or Karolina Pliskova in Saturday's final.

'I'm in the final now. I have a chance tomorrow, but it's going to be really, really, really tough. They're both great players. I'm going to watch the match tonight. I'm going to go out there tomorrow and try to play my game again,' Bertens said.  
'This morning right before the match, I was a little bit nervous. It's another opportunity. I'm just seeing that every day. I'm just trying the best I can. That also keeps me calm.'

Garcia held her opening service game to love, but that was as good as it would get for her on Manolo Santana Stadium on Friday. Despite being a powerful baseliner, Bertens’s court coverage was superb in the semifinal and Garcia quickly began to over-press in an attempt to hit through her unseeded opponent’s defense. A backhand unforced error gave up the first break point and although Garcia saved two and worked her way to game point, consecutive mistakes off that same wing gave up a third and saw it converted.

Really, the match never got closer than that. Garcia is a world-class player, a Premier Mandatory champion last year in Beijing and a French Open quarterfinalist who has played crisp, controlled, almost exemplary tennis this week in Madrid. But Bertens made her look as if the frustrated ‘I don’t know what to do!’ Garcia directed to her father at one point was the literal truth. 

Petra Kvitova vs Karolina Pliskova: Match preview, schedule & live streaming information

Caroline Garcia  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
A French Open semifinalist in 2016, Bertens made the final four at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome last May and the 26-year-old has won five titles on clay, most recently the Volvo Car Open in Charleston on green clay; she is 53-12 on clay since the start of 2016, with multiple wins over top-10 players on that surface. But the Dutch player has generally been too inconsistent to be seriously thought of as a title threat at the French Open.

That might change after seeing her performances on her way to the Mutua Madrid Open final, regardless of how she fares on Saturday against Karolina Pliskova or Petra Kvitova, who face off in the second semifinal on Friday evening. The fact that Garcia served at 86% but only won 57% of points behind her first serve is a tremendous testimony to Bertens’s returning, while the Dutch player’s own heavy serve was much less playable – not only did she win 79% of points behind her first serve, she was up at 67% on her second serve for the match, which in turn is evidence of the sublime point construction employed.

Bertens, who can look completely clueless on a hard court, could not have produced a more intelligent, well-measured, totally controlled display of clay-court power tennis on Friday. When Garcia was dictating the play, Bertens reset the point again and again with deep, high balls, often to the Garcia backhand, opening the court for forehand winners that ranged from routine to unlikely. She punished any foray to the net by Garcia with tricky, dipping balls to the French player’s feet. She read the game so well she seemed to have acres of time on the ball – but most of all she looked completely comfortable, playing with relentless aggression while never going for too much.

'I'm really happy with the way I played. I think it was maybe not great tennis, what people want to see with a lot of winners,' Bertens said.    
'Caroline is a great player, so I was just trying to play as many different balls as I could. I think I did it pretty well. Yesterday in the first set, I was struggling a lot, then trying to change my game yesterday. I think that helped me today already from the beginning. I was trying to put in the heavier balls, some slices, just grinding out there, trying to keep as many balls back in the court.'

With 1,000 ranking points on the line along with €1,043,680 in prize money, Saturday’s final at the Mutua Madrid Open will be one of the biggest matches Bertens has ever played – topped only perhaps by her semifinal against Serena Williams at the 2016 French Open. However, the Dutch player – already guaranteed to rise to world no. 15, a new career high, after reaching the final – has a superb 5-1 record in finals, and is clearly full of confidence at the moment. If she can produce a standard of tennis against Pliskova or Kvitova similar to that which she displayed against Garcia, she looks likely to secure the biggest title of her career in Madrid – and will intensify the aura of title contender starting to surround her in the run-up to the French Open.

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Kiki Bertens boosts French Open chances as she beats Caroline Garcia to make the Madrid Open final

Unseeded Dutch clay-court specialist Kiki Bertens ousted seventh seed Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-2 on Friday to reach her first Mutua Madrid Open final

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