WTA Cincinnati final review: Happy tears for Kiki Bertens, saves match point to win biggest title

 

Kiki Bertens saved a Championship Point to win her biggest career title, beating the world number one, Simona Halep, 2-6 7-6(6) 6-2 in Sunday’s Cincy final. For the second match in a row, Bertens rallied from a set down to secure her sixth (!) top ten win of the last two weeks. The dust is still settling on this rather wacky final so here are some quick thoughts on what happened…

Halep fast out of the blocks

For a set and a half, Simona Halep looked to be almost cruising. Serving at 92% of first serves in (!) and increasingly dictating the rallies, the confidence was overriding the fatigue. It was wonderful to see Halep being so aggressive, particularly on the forehand side where she was going down-the-line with intent. Halep’s depth also kept Bertens back and unable to unleash with her own forehand.

Halep saved a break point to serve out the first set, 6-2 in just over half an hour.

Bertens’s resilience and Championship point save

Bertens demonstrated her resilience to gain a foothold in the match. Despite losing the early break of the second set, Bertens stayed in the present to get to the second set tiebreak. After a string of loose errors, Halep produced her lone Championship Point at 6-5 on the Bertens serve in the second set tiebreak. Absolute props to Bertens on this one. A fan shouted out “Haide, Simona” in between Bertens’s first and second serve. Bertens showed character to land the second serve in play and then go after her forehand. On the final two points of the set, Halep looked a little tight as she lost the depth on her groundstokes and twice went into the net.

Bertens outlasts tiring Halep

All the tennis over the past two weeks seemed to catch up with Halep in that third set. The depth continued to go away in the third set, along with her patience. There was a changeover chat with coach where she seemed to be dwelling on her missed opportunity and said she had no positivity left. All the credit to Bertens who remained very composed and focused on her own game. Bertens continued to take more chances on return and could rely on her serve, dropping just nine points behind it in the third set.

Halep showed signs of fight at the end. Bertens held her ground and served it out with an ace!

Rally of the match

Halep won the point of the match at 4-4 30-30 on the Bertens serve in the second set. This felt like it could be the pivotal point of the match as it gave Halep a break point that had she taken, would have seen her serving for the title. Bertens once again showed her resilience and ability to reset to hold that game. To be honest, it was a real surprise as Bertens looked exhausted after that long rally.

Halep’s tweener

Simona Halep won a point in the third set where she hit a successful tweener. I was screaming 😂.

Final thoughts

Tennis is a funny sport. Halep was one point away from doing the Montreal-Cincy double but ends the week as Cincy runner-up for the third time in her career and on the back of a tough loss. I really hope that Halep doesn’t dwell on this final because what she has achieved over the last two weeks has been truly exceptional. I’m very intrigued to see whether Halep will play New Haven next week.

I wrote in the week about Bertens being a contender for the most improved player of 2018 and I think this week lifts her even higher in that argument. Bertens is having a tremendous year. I’d always wondered why Bertens has never been able to transform her game from clay to the hard court because her aggressive baseline game would seem to suit hard. Bertens has backed up her Wimbledon quarter-final and broken through on hard in a big way this week, and to a degree last week in Montreal too, with a bundle of top ten wins. I’ve always thought Bertens is a massive confidence player and right now she seems to have total belief in herself and her game.

Singapore and the top ten are suddenly in sight. To see those happy tears at the end upon winning was a wonderful moment. Congrats, Kiki!

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Photo by Omar Boraby Photography.

6 thoughts on “WTA Cincinnati final review: Happy tears for Kiki Bertens, saves match point to win biggest title

  1. Halep did not appear to have her normal massive match enthusiasm. Playing a match a day, day after day, it becomes more like a job than a sport. Halep arrears to be still scheduled to play New Haven. By the time the USO starts she will probably be physically and mentally drained. IMO Halep had a very good chance to win the USO, but not if she has nothing left in the tank.
    By winning the two points The Moo described above ( Rally and Tweener), I thought Halep would use that energy to win the match, but she went into a mentally void.

    Looking at the finalists history at the New Haven event, Serena Williams name does not appear. She does not burn herself out in the small events leading up to a Grand Slam.

    Happy to see Bertens win a big event, even if she beat one of my favorite short players.

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    • Yep a bit concerned for Halep if she does go deep in New Haven. I feel like she’s the favourite for the US Open, as long as she can rest up a bit before the tournament!

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      • Great and well deserved win from Kiki (and it was lovely to see how emotional she got after she’d won the final point!), but I really hope Simona doesn’t play in New Haven this week. By her own admission she had nothing left for the final set and badly needs a break.

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  2. Yeah this definitely puts Bertens as most improved now. If she continues this form then she’ll be going to Singapore, where the court conditions definitely suit her game!

    Also it has to be mentioned that Djokovic just became the first player to win all 9 Masters titles, thrashing Federer in his sixth final here.

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