Kiki Bertens won the biggest title of her career on Sunday, fighting off a match point and upsetting world No. 1 Simona Halep 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 in the final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Bertens derailed history as Halep was trying to become the first player to win the Canadian Open and Cincinnati back to back.
“I think I didn’t have really a good time to get nervous, because I was just so tired,” said the world No. 17 Bertens afterwards. “I think it was such a tough match, and after winning that second set I knew, like, anything is still possible.”
It was the second title of the year for the Dutchwoman after the claycourt win in Charleston. She extended her win streak against Top 10-ranked players to eight, but a first over a world No. 1.
Halep fell to 0-3 in Cincinnati finals and saw her match winning streak stopped at nine.
“It was [a] very physical match, that’s why the end I couldn’t make it anymore,” said Halep. “But she played really well, and she really deserves to win this title, because her level was very high.”
Bertens had 34 winners to Halep’s 23.
“In the beginning, I knew that I had to play aggressive, but I was a little bit doubting sometimes, like where should I hit, because she’s such a great mover also on the court,” Bertens said. “I think in the second set I had that feeling a little bit more, like, where I could attack her serve or where I could play a little bit more forward coming to the net. The second and the third I was more feeling that.”
In the final set the pair exchanged breaks, then Bertens broke for a 2-1 lead, then a 4-1 lead before closing it out.
“Winning a title like this, my first hardcourt title, and then against No. 1 of the world, getting my career high on Monday,” Bertens said. “I don’t know. It’s just coming everything together, I guess.”
The 26-year-old Bertens improved to 6-2 in career finals and 2-1 this year. Halep fell to 18-15 in career finals and 3-3 this year.
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