Bertens Announces 2021 Will Be Her Last Season

Kiki Bertens

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Kiki Bertens is the highest-ranked Dutchwoman in WTA history. Once ranked as high as No. 4 in the world, she’s won 10 singles and 10 doubles titles in her career.

However, at age 29, Bertens has decided the time is right to move on to a new chapter in her life. The native of Wateringen, Netherlands, told the WTA Insider she made her decision after Roland-Garros. Bertens made the announcement at a press conference in the Netherlands Wednesday and on her Instagram platform. The combination of last year’s WTA tour interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic coupled with an ongoing Achilles injury were contributing factors in Bertens’ decision to retire at the end of the 2021 season.

This season, Bertens is 2-5 in limited action after going 15-6 last year. In 2019, she was 55-26. Bertens lost in the first round of the year’s Roland-Garros to Polona Hercog in her most recent match. Her career singles win-loss record to 443-262.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kiki Bertens (@kikibertens)

For now, Bertens is committed to play next week at Eastbourne followed by Wimbledon. Then, she will compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games, representing the Netherlands. She will compete both in singles and with fellow Dutchwoman Demi Schuurs in doubles.

“I know the success that I have had, I don’t know if that’s going to come soon and that’s not only because of the injury,” Bertens told the WTA Insider in an interview published Wednesday. “Life showed me there’s something else. I think a lot of the girls who have had a longer career already probably felt the same way. I think it’s easier when you’re younger if you step away a little bit from the game and start competing again.

“For me, if Covid didn’t come, maybe I could continue for two to three more years, I have no idea. But when you’re in the rhythm of doing something, it’s easy for me and I can just keep on going, no matter how long.

“That’s why I could play 30 tournaments a year and go in week and week out and play singles and doubles and everything. But once you step away, you body has to get used to it again, it makes it tough. Now, I enjoy home so much, so why do I have to go out there and struggle, struggle with my fitness level, of the injury and how I feel on court, if I could also be home and enjoying my time. It’s just time for a new chapter and I’m looking forward to that.”

Upsets dominate bett1Open landscape

The top three seeds – No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 2 Elina Svitolina and No. 3 Bianca Andreescu – were all upset during the second round of play at the WTA 500-series bett1Open grass-court tournament on Steffi-Graf Stadion in Berlin Wednesday afternoon.

First, 34th-ranked Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia saved seven set points in the second against the World No. 6 Svitolina and won 6-4, 7-5 to reach her third career WTA grass-court quarterfinal. Later, she was joined by No. 63 Alizé Cornet of France, who took out the World No. 7 Andreescu, 7-6 (2), 7-5, in two hours and five minutes for her 21st career Top 10 victory. Finally, No. 28 Madison Keys of the United States took out the World No. 4 Sabalenka, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, for her seventh win of the season.

The just-turned-21 Andreescu of Canada, who received a first-round bye, was playing in just her second WTA main-draw match of her career on grass and first since 2017 at Wimbledon. Although Andreescu hit 27 winners, she also committed 31 unforced errors and served eight double faults. Meanwhile, it was Cornet’s second victory on grass this week in Berlin and, next, she will face Thursday’s winner between No. 6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain and No. 21 Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan, in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

“I was very motivated today, I really wanted this match,” Cornet said during an on-court interview. “I had great sensations in my first round already. Today, especially in the beginning of the match, I was playing very well. But you know, Bianca, she’s fighting until the end; she came back and I got pretty tight.

“Emotionally, it was tough; she was playing better and better and I was having less intention. But it was good. I got myself together at 5-4 and I really tried to stay focused on what I had to do, and in the end, it was 7-5.”

After losing three straight times to Svitolina, Alexandrova beat the Ukrainian thanks to hitting 29 winners and outpointing her opponent 80-68. It was her fourth career Top 10 win.

“I really like playing on grass,” Alexandrova said on court afterward. “I was looking forward to it. …”To play against Elina is always tough and I’m surprised I won in two sets. In my mind, I was already focused on the third set. I think I was luckier in that important game, and when I broke her back it gave me more confidence.”

Keys fired eight aces and hit 31 winners against Sabalenka, who countered with 24 winners but committed 25 unforced errors. Points were even at 91 and each player broke the other’s serve four times. However, Keys, who has won two grass-court titles in her career, looked more comfortable on the surface than Sabalenka and stayed more focused with the match on the line. Next, she will face either 106th-ranked qualifier Liudmila Samsonova or No. 32 Veronika Kudermetova, both of Russia, in her first quarterfinal of the season and first since January of 2020.

“I’m incredibly proud of myself today,” Keys said during an on-court interview. “I fought really hard to get that break back early in the third set. I knew it was going to be a tough match and that’s exactly what it was. I’m really happy to be able to win that one. I think our third set was high level on both sides.

“I knew if I could just stay in the match and try find an opening, I could get myself back in and that’s what I did.”

Also, advancing to the quarterfinal round was No. 5 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who defeated No. 25 Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 6-4, and will face Alexandrova on Friday.

• No. 3 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia reached the quarterfinals of the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham in Birmingham, England, with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 76 Camila Giorgi of Italy. Vekic hit 13 aces and converted four of nine break-point chances to move on against No. 70 Heather Watson of Great Britain, who won by retirement over No. 6 seed Zhang Shuai of China, ahead 5-2 in the first set. Also advancing was No. 8 seed Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, who defeated No. 74 Caroline Garcia of France, 6-3, 6-0. She will face 203rd-ranked qualifier Coco Vandeweghe of the United States, who beat No. 72 Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

After winning Stuttgart, Cilic reaches London quarterfinals

After winning the MercedesCup in Stuttgart Sunday afternoon, Croatia’s Marin Cilic continued his good run of form on grass at the cinch Championships at Queen’s Club in London. Tuesday evening, Cilic rallied to beat 174th-ranked Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner in three sets. Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Cilic defeated Fabio Fognini of Italy, 6-3, 7-6 (4), to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals.

The 37th-ranked Cilic won 82 percent of his first-serve points by firing 17 aces and hitting 36 winners against No. 29 Fognini, who hit seven aces and 18 winners to 12 unforced errors.

The grass-court season is an important part of Cilic’s year and he’s won titles at Queen’s Club twice, in 2012 and, again, in 2018. “It’s always a pleasure to come back,” he said. “Luckily, over the years, I’ve always played well here. Winning here always gives me confidence to do well at Wimbledon. …

“I always feel quite good when playing several matches in a row. I get the confidence of winning. [Winning] Stuttgart was extremely special. Last week, everything clicked and I played good tennis. Now, I’ve played two solid matches and I can continue the run.”

Next, Cilic will face No. 4 seed Alex de Minaur, who beat John Millman, 6-1, 6-3, in an all-Australian second-round match.

Also, Cameron Norrie and wild card Jack Draper set up an all-English quarterfinal with their respective victories. The 41st-ranked Norrie defeated No. 5 seed Aslan Karatsev of Russia, 7-5, 6-2, while the 309th-ranked Draper surprised No. 39 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (0).

Wimbledon wild cards announced

Wimbledon wild cards were announced by the All-England Club on Wednesday. Headlining the men’s wild card selections was two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray while five-time Wimbledon titlist Venus Williams was among the women selected for a wild card.

Besides Murray, men’s wild cards in singles were awarded to Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, as well as to a trio of players from Great Britain: Liam Broady, Jay Clarke and Jack Draper. In addition to Williams, women’s wild cards in singles were awarded to five from Great Britain: Katie Boulder, Jodie Burrage, Harriet Dart, Francesca Jones and Samantha Murray Sharan.

Tennis Channel: Djokovic-Nadal Roland-Garros semifinal most-watched

Tennis Channel‘s coverage of the recently-completed French Open led to the most-watched match in the network’s 15-year history of comprehensively televising Roland-Garros. The men’s singles semifinal between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal last Friday generated 511,000 viewers on the channel. It surpassed the previous most-watched match, a 2019 Australian Open contest between Roger Federer and Taylor Fritz, which was seen by 448,000 viewers.

Graduation day at Rafael Nadal Academy

“Quotable …”

• American Coco Vandeweghe, who has put together back-to-back main draw wins to reach the quarterfinals of the WTA 250 Viking Classic Birmingham in England, including a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia on Wednesday : “I love it! It makes it interesting. I’ve got nothing else to do in this bubble but play tennis. You can’t go outside; you can’t do anything else. I’m glad you guys came out and celebrated with me today. I had a lot of fun playing in front of fans, it’s been a while. I haven’t played on grass in three years. So, it’s fun to be back.”

Alex de Minaur after beating close friend and fellow Aussie John Millman in the ATP 500 cinch Championships at Queen’s Club on Wednesday: “I’m very close to Johnny, so I want him to do as well as possible and would have loved for him to be on the other side of the draw and go deep.

“In a way, it also brings a certain level of respect towards the match and in some ways it actually helps me. I can kind of tell myself to be more focused and try to worry about my side of the court more. I think I handled that very well today and [I am] very happy with my performance.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Alizé Cornet / While in Berlin …

Nick Kyrgios / On life goals …