Terrible Luck For Ailing Bertens At Roland Garros

Kiki Bertens at Roland Garros

PARIS, May 29, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)

World No. 4 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, a smart pick by many to win Roland Garros after lifting the biggest trophy of her career earlier this month at Madrid, instead, saw her 2019 French Open come crashing down on Court Philippe Chatrier Wednesday evening.

Bertens, who also reached the semifinals at Stuttgart and Rome on clay this spring – and already scored a solid 6-3, 6-4 first-round win over France’s Pauline Parmentier on Monday – was forced to retire from her second-round match with 46th-ranked Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia after just four completed games, trailing 3-1, 40-15, because of illness. Bertens could be seen on video telling the tournament doctor she was shaking and had no energy.

“I don’t have any power and I don’t feel well,” said Bertens.

Bertens, a 2016 Roland Garros semifinalist who had beaten the 21-year-old Kuzmova twice earlier this year at Dubai and Miami, abruptly halted play mid-game just 21 minutes into the match. Up to that point, Bertens’ play had been listless, obviously affected by her condition. After consulting with a trainer and the tournament director, she retired. Upon shaking hands with the fallen player, Kuzmova could be seen saying “I’m so sorry” to Bertens.

Later during a press conference, Bertens said, “This morning, I woke up at 3 a.m., and then I felt really sick. Vomiting, diarrhea all night long, all day long. I felt a little bit better before the match. I had some sleep, and I just wanted to give it a try. But then as soon as I start warming up right before the match, it started again. There was not any energy left.”

Kuzmova advanced for the first time to the third round, where she will play No. 26 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain, who triumphed over American wild card Lauren Davis, ranked No. 111, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, in two hours and 10 minutes. Konta, who also is into the third round for the first time in Paris, has won 10 of 12 matches that have gone three sets this season and is 12-3 on clay.

Andreescu withdraws with shoulder injury

No. 22 seed Bianca Andreescu, who missed the entire clay-court season leading up to the French Open, withdrew with an ongoing right shoulder injury. The 18-year-old Canadian, who won her first WTA tour-level title at Indian Wells in March before withdrawing from the Miami Open a week later, was scheduled to face American Sofia Kenin in the second round on Thursday. Instead, No. 34 Kenin will advance via walkover. Her likely next opponent is No. 10 seed and three-time French Open champion Serena Williams, who plays 238th-ranked qualifier Kurumi Nara of Japan on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Andreescu completed and won her suspended match against lucky loser Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, ranked No. 118, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, that was begun the day before and lasted three hours and two minutes.

News of Andreescu’s withdrawal came at the same time that Bertens retired from her match against Kuzmova. Andreescu tweeted a statement:

“I’m disappointed to announce my withdrawal from Roland Garros. Tough moment for me but after discussing with my coaches, team and doctors, it was the safest decision to make after the shoulder pain I felt during my match. I will now rest and prepare for the upcoming grass court season. Thanks for all your support, it will make me come back stronger.”

Safarova bids ‘adieu’, calls it a career

Lucie Safarova, a former World No. 5 and doubles World No. 1 from the Czech Republic, saw her stellar career end following a first-round doubles loss, where she teamed with Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in lieu of her longtime partner, injured Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S. Safarova and Cibulkova fell to Sofia Kenin of the United States and Andrea Petkovic of Germany, 6-4, 6-0, in 65 minutes on Court 4.

“I cherish even those that I lost because I learned from them and then I was able to be better and achieve what I wanted, what were my dreams,” said Safarova, as quoted by the WTA website.

Safarova, 32, a 2015 singles finalist was also a two-time French Open doubles champion (2015, 2017), was asked after today’s match if there was any chance of her extending her playing career. She said she was “99 percent” certain that she’s headed into retirement. Safarova finished her career with five doubles Grand Slam titles. She also represented the Czech Republic in Fed Cup and Olympic competitions.

In a column written for WTATennis.com, Hall of Fame great Martina Navratilova, penned: “It’s possible to be a sweet person and still succeed in this gladiatorial sport of ours. Just look at Lucie Safarova.

“I’ve only got nice things to say about Lucie, who has had a great career, including reaching the final of the 2015 French Open, where she came so close to beating Serena. She also won a bunch of doubles majors, and represented the Czech Republic so well in the Fed Cup. On top of all that, Lucie has always been a fun player to watch. I wish her a happy retirement.”

Around Roland Garros

• The match between No. 15 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and No. 95 Laura Siegemund of Germany, was suspended by darkness after two hours and 14 minutes of play. Siegemund won the opening set 6-4, then lost the second set by the same score. The match was called at 4-all in the final set at 9:12 p.m. by the tournament referee. It had been switched from Court Simonne Mathieu to Court Philippe Chatrier due to availability and because of the length of the Marin Cilic-Grigor Dimitrov match that was ongoing on Court Simonne Mathieu.

The Bencic-Siegemund winner will play No. 23 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia in the third round. Vekic rebounded to beat No. 63 Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, winning 12 of the final 15 games of the match, which was completed in one hour and 28 minutes on Court 14. Vevic hit 29 winners and overcame six double faults and three service breaks to advance.

• No. 31 Petra Martic of Croatia needed just 65 minutes to advance to the third round with an easy 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 53 Kristina Mladenovic on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Martic was solid in winning 70 percent of her service points, including three aces, and just as effective in winning 59 percent of her receiving points. She hit 22 winners, committed just nine unforced errors and outpointed Mladenovic 60-33.

Four weeks ago, Martic and Mladenovic played in the longest WTA match of the year at Istanbul en route to the Croatian winning her first tour-level title. This time, it was a much shorter match and Mladenovic, a 2017 quarterfinalist who was playing in her 12th French Open, committed 19 unforced errors and won just two points on her second serve.

Martic, playing in her 10th Roland Garros, will equal her best performance – twice reaching the fourth round, in 2012 and 2017 – with one more win. However, it will be an uphill battle as she will face World No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, who earlier advanced with a straight-set win.

• No. 38 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, continued her fine form as she exceed her best performance at Roland Garros with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Anastasia Potapova of Russia. Potapova, who advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 first-day upset over No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber, was no match for the 19-year-old Vondrousova, who has yet to lose a set in two matches. The Czech converted five of 11 break points, hit 19 winners and saw Potapova commit 33 unforced errors. Next, Vondrousova faces No. 28 seed Carla Suárez Navarro.

• Although they are only seeded 11th, Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty make a pretty formidable doubles team and recently won the Italian Open title. They won their first-round match over Aleksandra Krunic of Russia and Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, 6-1, 6-1, needing just 49 minutes to advance to the second round. So, it was like a good workout for the two winners, who are both alive in the singles draw and will play their respective second-round singles matches Friday. Azarenka will play World No. 1 Naomi Osaka of Japan and Barty faces Danielle Collins of the United States.

What they’re saying

No. 7 seed Sloane Stephens on her recent engagement to American soccer star Joey Altidore and the importance of being in a good space: “Definitely, when your home life is good and your family is good and you’re happy, I think that definitely does affect how you play on court.

“Obviously traveling, being away from home and having a good support system at home while you’re away I think is really important. It’s not easy being on the road for four or five weeks at a time, sometimes even six weeks.”

What they’re tweeting

World No. 18 Julia Goerges announced via Twitter that she’s appointed Sebastian Sachs as her new coach, after working for more than three years with Michael Geserer.

“Hello everyone. I would like to thank Michael for his hard work over the past 3.5 years. Together we have had a very successful partnership and my game has developed positively. Now it is time to take a new path and make my next steps forward.

“Sebastian Sachs will be my new coach and I look forward to what is ahead. Thank you all for your continued support!”

Wednesday’s results

Second round women’s singles
No. 7 S. Stephens, U.S., d. S. Sorribes Tormo, Spain, 6-1, 7-6 (3)
V. Kuzmova, Slovakia, d. No. 4 K. Bertens, Netherlands, 3-1, retired
No. 19 G. Muguruza d. J. Larsson, Sweden, 6-4, 6-1
No. 31 P. Martic, Croatia, d. K. Mladenovic, France, 6-2, 6-1
E. Svitolina, Ukraine, d. K. Kozlova, Ukraine, walkover
No. 26 J. Konta, Great Britain, d. WC-L. Davis, U.S., 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
No. 20 E. Mertens, Belgium, d. WC-D. Parry, France, 6-1, 6-3
No. 23 D. Vekic, Croatia, d. R. Peterson, Sweden, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2
No. 12 A. Sevastova, Latvia, d. M. Minella, Luxembourg, 6-2, 6-4
M. Vondrousova, Czech Republic, d. A. Potapova, Russia, 6-4, 6-0
K. Kanepi, Estonia, d. S. Zhang, China, 6-7 (4), 6-0, 7-5
P. Hercog, Slovenia, d. J. Brady, U.S., 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-4
V. Kudermetova, Russia, d. Z. Diyas, Kazakhstan, 7-5, 6-1
No. 28 C. Suárez Navarro, Spain, d. S. Rogers, U.S. 6-1, 6-7 (4), 6-3
No. 2 K.A. Pliskova, Czech Republic, d. Q-K. Kucova, Slovakia, 6-2, 6-2