The fifth day is just getting underway at the Rogers Cup at the moment, and we have all four quarterfinals being played, and my match to watch is the first on Court Centrale between the Australian fifteenth seed Ashleigh Barty and Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands. The odds for this match are near-inseparable but Bertens, despite being the lower-ranked player, is the favorite to go forth to the semifinals.
This has been a really solid season so far for Ashleigh Barty, but she has still struggled to get those really big wins on the biggest stages. After quite a miserable clay season overall, Barty had a great run the week before the French Open at the Internationaux de Strasbourg by getting a win over Qiang Wang on the way to the semifinals before she had to withdraw due to a lumbar spine after dropping the opener to eventual champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. It was a tough draw, to end a tough clay season, at the French Open for Barty as she drew and got defeated by Serena Williams in the second round. The grass court season, which is Barty’s preferred part of the calendar, started with a bang as she took the title at the Nottingham International after a week that saw wins over Ying-Ying Duan, Johanna Konta, and Naomi Osaka. For the rest of the grass season, Barty somewhat fizzled out as she just did not do enough against the top players with a second-round loss at the Birmingham Classic to Julia Goerges, a quarterfinal loss to Caroline Wozniacki at the Eastbourne International and then a third-round loss to Daria Kasatkina at the Wimbledon Championships. So far this week, Barty had to battle through a first-round tussle with Irina-Camelia Begu, before getting it a bit easier against Alison van Uytvanck and then yesterday, Barty got a 7-6(7-3), 6-4 third-round win over Alize Cornet. This has been one of the best seasons for Kiki Bertens as she has constantly impressed, even in events where you would not expect her to. The end of the clay season was a bit underwhelming for Bertens considering how well she started it as she went to the Italian Open slightly fatigued after a run to the final in Madrid and she went out to Maria Sakkari in the first round, she then went down to Kirsten Flipkens in the quarterfinals of the Nürnberger Versucherungscup in a very tight three-set match before she ended her clay season with Angelique Kerber taking her down in the third round of the French Open. There weren’t the highest hopes on Bertens heading into the grass swing, which is historically her worst part of the season, and that showed in her start with a second-round loss at the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships to Kirsten Flipkens, then a second-round loss to Mihaela Buzarnescu at the Eastbourne International but then Bertens really showed up at the Wimbledon Championships to post a best-ever result of the quarterfinals before Julia Goerges got the better of her. This week has been so good thus far for Kiki Bertens as she started with two dominant wins over Carol Zhao and Karolina Pliskova before really bringing it to move past Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-2 in the third round yesterday. The edge in terms of confidence does go to Barty because she has been so much more solid this season and less likely to take losses to players she shouldn’t be taking losses from.
Prior to this year, Ashleigh Barty had only played at the Rogers Cup once before and that was last year when she managed to come through qualifying to make the third round before Garbine Muguruza got the better of her. This event has also been played sparsely by Kiki Bertens with just three previous appearances, and she has an average result of the second round from those appearances. The second round is also Bertens best result at the Rogers Cup, and she has gotten there twice in 2012, before going down to Caroline Wozniacki, and then again in 2013 before going down to Kirsten Flipkens. The only other time Bertens has played in Canada was in 2014 and she failed to win a match with Klara Koukalova taking her out in the first round. Neither woman will feel very comfortable on the courts at the Rogers Cup, but the edge has to go loosely to Bertens because she has that bit more experience than Barty.
Head to Head Record
There has been just one prior meeting between Ashleigh Barty and Kiki Bertens, which took place a number of years ago on a hard court with the younger Barty coming through to lead their head-to-head record at 1-0. This match came at a very different level to the upcoming one because it was the qualifying final at the Brisbane International and wildcard home favorite Barty got the hard-fought 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over fourth seed Bertens. This match came before big changes for both because Barty was just seventeen, and since that time she has taken a stint out of the game to play professional tennis, and Bertens had not experienced such immense success on clay yet. I think that the controlled aggression from Barty matched with the aggressive defense from Bertens created a really tight tussle but in the end, Barty wanted it more with the match being on home soil and when she was just seventeen.
I think this will be an entertaining tussle because I do think that both players will be competing really well, but I think that both of their bests Kiki Bertens wins because someone with the more controlled aggression of Ashleigh Barty will really struggle to hit it past her. I think that in the opener, Bertens will come out and pick up right where she left off after beating Petra Kvitova and Barty might be a bit taken aback because she has not played the highest caliber of players recently so I think Bertens will waltz through the opener. In the second set, I think that there might be some nerves for Bertens which she has shown throughout the year and Barty will be able to her teeth stuck into the match by taking the second set 6-1. In the decider, Bertens will have managed to calm herself and after a tight start, she will start getting that extra ball back and reel off the last couple of game for 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 vitory.