Bertens sweeps aside Bacsinszky
A 12th straight win for world No.58 Kiki Bertens sees her become the first Dutchwoman since 1971 to make the semi-finals at Roland-Garros.
Put a seeded player in Kiki Bertens' way at Roland-Garros 2016, and the world No.58 will show that seed the door. Timea Bacsinszky became the fourth she has despatched this fortnight, as Bertens stretched her winning streak to 12 and became the first Dutchwoman to reach the last four here since 1971.
In miserably cold conditions on Suzanne-Lenglen Court, Bertens battled through an entrenched 70-minute first set where breaks of serve were thick on the ground, and then breezed through the second to prevent Bacsinszky racking up a second successive semi-final appearance in Paris.
Bertens won it 7-5, 6-2, and will face the 21-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams for a place in the final.
One month ago Bertens was ranked No.89. Now, having gone through qualifying to take the title in Nuremberg, and racking up five wins here, she will be heading at least for the top 30 when the new rankings are released on Monday. Seeds she has swept aside here include No.3 Angelique Kerber, No.29 Daria Kasatkina, No.15 Madison Keys, and now No.8 Bacsinszky. She is the first Dutchwoman to reach any Grand Slam final since Betty Stove at Wimbledon in 1977.
As for Bacsinszky, the two Slams to date this year have seen her fall victim to unlikely opposition - in Australia it was No.55 Annika Beck. There was no sign of the fresh-looking player who coped so comfortably with similar conditions on the same court on Wednesday to sweep aside Venus Williams - although it is fair to say that in the first set of this quarter-final, neither player was relishing the unseasonal cold. The official temperature was given as 13 Centigrade, but on court that felt a generous assessment, and while only Bertens opted for a long-sleeve top and capri leggings, either player could been forgiven for taking the overcoat-and-woolly-scarf option.
Neither of them could establish a conclusive advantage in the first set, not least because a hold of serve was rarer than hen's teeth. Break followed break, with Bertens doing better when she could keep rallies short on her own serve. But such brief exchanges were a rare luxury, with long rallies the order of the day, frequently resulting in exhausted errors rather than outright winners. At 5-5, Bertens grabbed a crucial hold, and a string of Bacsinszky mistakes yielded three set points. A smacking forehand from the Dutchwoman was more than Bacsinszky could handle, and after 70 minutes the first set was done.
Bertens called the trainer for attention to her left calf, leaving the Swiss to have an extended think about her predicament as she sat courtside during the medical timeout. Whatever pain Bertens was feeling appeared not be too great, as she smiled broadly and gave a thumbs-up while lying on the towel. Strapped and bandaged, she was a player renewed.
In contrast to the gritty slog of the first set, Bertens skipped off with the second and was in touching distance of 5-0 before fatigue set in. Bacsinszky celebrated her break for 1-4 by finally putting on a long-sleeved jacket, while Bertens' service hold for 5-2 was so patently tired that she all but delivered a written statement pledging she could not serve again. Rooted to the baseline, she saw her opponent scoop a forehand wide for two match points, and then fell backwards on the clay when she converted her chance, delighted to continue her stellar run.