Maria Sharapova vs Kiki Bertens WTA Madrid tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Sharapova battles Dutch clay specialist, Bertens for semi-final spot

Leye Aduloju in WTA 10 May 2018
  • Maria Sharapova vs Kiki Bertens is live from Madrid on Thursday, 10 May from 3:30pm local time/ 2:30pm BST
  • Sharapova and Bertens meet for the first time on Thursday
  • 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) 
Maria Sharapova. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova seeks her second semi-final of the season when she takes on Dutch clay specialist, Kiki Bertens at the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday.

Maria Sharapova vs Kiki Bertens WTA Mutua Madrid Open tennis is live from Madrid on Thursday, 10 May from 3:30pm local time/ 2:30pm BST 
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) 

Sharapova had opened the season with a semi-final run in Shenzhen but she hit a road block after that, losing to Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open before suffering successive opening round losses in Doha, Indian Wells and Stuttgart. She also had her problems with injuries, a regular occurrence since her return from doping suspension last April, missing tournaments in Dubai and Miami because of forearm complaints.

However, after all of that, the Russian is back playing her best tennis of the season in Madrid, where she seeks a second title, having gone all the way in the Spanish capital in 2014.

Reunited with Thomas Hogstedt for the clay court season after splitting with former coach, Sven Groenefeld, Sharapova has been in fine form in Madrid, taking down Mihaela Buzarnescu, Irina-Camelia Begu and last year’s finalist, Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets to reach the quarter finals for the fifth time in her career.

Sharapova had lost to Mladenovic in the Stuttgart semi-final last year in her first tournament back after her doping ban, and revenge would have been high on the agenda of the fiery Russian, as Mladenovic had also been a vocal critic of tournament organizers’ decisions to award Sharapova wildcards on her return to the tour.

The Frenchwoman made the better start on Wednesday, breaking in the opening game of the match, but Sharapova soon got into her stride, winning the last five games of the set to take it 6-3. While there were no breaks of serve in the opening six games of the second set, Sharapova looked likelier to find the breakthrough, with her typically aggressive returns, weight and depth of shot. The former champion forced the break seventh game, before comfortably serving out a well-played 6-3 6-4 victory. 

“I just felt like I did the right things,” Sharapova said afterwards. “Despite a slow start, I was still very positive. I still felt like I was doing the right things out there, and continued to do so. I felt like I returned much better than I have been, which makes your life a little bit easier.”

Next up for the former world number one is a quarter final meeting with Kiki Bertens, who is coming off the biggest win of her career against Caroline Wozniacki.


Bertens, for a few seasons now, has been one of the finest clay-court players on the WTA tour. 

Kiki Bertens. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
A semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2016, Bertens has amassed a 48-12 record on clay since the start of 2016, claiming back-to-back titles in Nurnberg, and winning in Gstaad last season. She also reached the quarter finals in Madrid last year, as well as the semis in Rome.

While she has been brilliant on clay, her results on quicker surfaces have been poor, as she made just two WTA quarter finals away from the dirt last year, at International-level tournaments in Hobart and Luxembourg, and was a mere 7-19 on hard an grass courts. It’s been a similar story this year, opening with a first-round loss in Brisbane, before falling to Garbine Muguruza in the second round in Sydney. She managed to put together consecutive wins at the Australian Open, where she made the third round, but suffered successive opening round losses in St. Petersburg, Dubai and Indian Wells. Bertens beat Varvara Lepchenko in Miami, ending her four-match losing streak, but she crashed to Venus Williams in the second round to take her hard-court tally for the season to 4-7.

What followed was the now customary revival on clay, as the Dutchwoman romped to her biggest career title in Charleston, beating Alize Cornet, Madison Keys and Julia Goerges en route the title. She lost to Karolina Pliskova in the indoor clay of Stuttgart, but normal clay service has been resumed in Madrid, where she has beaten Maria Sakkari, Anastasija Sevastova and Caroline Wozniacki all in straight sets to reach the quarter finals for the second straight year. 

She was simply sublime against Wozniacki, dropping serve just once (her opening service game), firing away 29 winners and committing just 21 unforced errors in a superb 6-2 6-2 victory. The Dane in response managed just five winners; and was stifled into 15 unforced errors. Those are unusual numbers against Wozniacki, but they show just how well Bertens played. The Dutchwoman finished off with a flourish, winning the last ten points in a dominant win over the world number two. 

“Today… I don’t know! I was going out there and almost every shot was in, I hit drive volleys, dropshots, almost every shot” Bertens said after the match. “That’s not a normal day for me! Hopefully I can have a few more days like this here.”  
“It was a really good match, I think one of my best matches ever… I’m really happy to be back here in Madrid - I think so far all the matches I’ve played here have been going very well”.

She faces a different challenge against Sharapova on Thursday, as both ladies meet for the first time in search of a semi-final spot in Madrid. For all the good work Bertens did against Wozniacki, she did not encounter anything like the amount of pressure she’s likely to be up against when she plays Sharapova in the quarter finals. The Russian has been striking the ball very well, both on her trademark returns and off the ground, and Bertens will have to play out of her skin to get pull this one off.

Let’s not forget- while Bertens has been racking up the wins on clay, Sharapova has been doing it at a higher level in the last few years, claiming multiple titles at Roland Garros, Rome, Stuttgart, and of course, winning Madrid in 2014.

“I don't know much about her,” Sharapova admitted. “I've seen a few of her matches. I spoke a little bit to Thomas [Hogstedt]  as I was doing my cool down just now, a little bit about the match”. But I'll go home, I'll be doing some treatment. I'll watch a few videos of a few of her matches here, and maybe in the past”. 
“She's a confidence player as well. I think that's one of the reasons she's been playing so well. Clearly loves the clay. I look forward to that challenge. It's great to be at this stage.”

Bertens is good enough to pounce on a below par Sharapova, but I think the Russian takes this fairly comfortably if she plays anywhere near her best.

Maria Sharapova vs Kiki Bertens WTA Mutua Madrid Open tennis is live from Madrid on Thursday, 10 May from 3:30pm local time/ 2:30pm BST
Watch and bet on the match live at bet365 > live streaming > Maria Sharapova vs Kiki Bertens  (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify)


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Maria Sharapova vs Kiki Bertens WTA Madrid tennis Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Sharapova battles Dutch clay specialist, Bertens for semi-final spot

Maria Sharapova takes on Kiki Bertens in the quarter finals of the Madrid Open on Thursday. Can the Russian take down the Dutch clay specialist? Read our preview, predcitions and stream the match live online.

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