It was a week to remember for Kiki Bertens at the 2018 Volvo Car Open.
After saving a match point early Saturday afternoon in a Titanic tussle with Madison Keys, the No. 12 seed from The Netherlands dropped just three games in a scorching championship match, beating Julia Goerges 6-2, 6-1 for the title.
Playing two matches on Sunday after a rain-soaked Saturday, the team of Alla Kudryavtseva and Katarina Srebotnik won both on the last day of the Volvo Car Open to capture the doubles crown.
Kudryavtseva/Srebotnik beat Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3, 6-3 inside Volvo Car Stadium after taking out Kateryna Bondarenko and Aleksandra Krunic earlier in the day in the semifinals.
Championship Sunday always brings about world-class WTA tennis in Charleston, but with it also arrives thoughts of, “Wait! That all happened so fast!”
The same goes for the 2018 edition of the Volvo Car Open, which has whizzed by in a blur of on-court action, special events away from it and inspiring storylines along the way.
Kiki Bertens saved a match point on Sunday afternoon to beat American hope Madison Keys 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(5) in a nearly three-hour semifinal to book her place in the Volvo Car Open final.
It’s there that she’ll face Julia Goerges, the German, who took out Anastasija Sevastova 7-6(5), 6-3.
Sunday is set to be a busy day of tennis. You can say that several times over.
After storms wiped out the majority of Saturday’s Volvo Car Open and men’s legends play, the schedule is chock full of world-class action from morning until the early evening, when we’ll crown three new Charleston champions once again.
For Julia Goerges, the fifth time is the charm.
Making her fifth appearance at the Volvo Car Open, the 29-year-old German advanced to the semifinals in Charleston for the first tim in her career. Friday afternoon she ended the eight-match winning streak of defending champion Daria Kasatkina here, winning 6-4, 6-3 to book a spot in the final four.
A lot has changed in the three years since Madison Keys last made the Volvo Car Open final in 2015. But one thing has stayed the same: She still plays ball-bashing, power-laden tennis.
On Saturday Keys, the 23-year-old American, looks to make her second final here in four years, set to play the equally-powerful Kiki Bertens in one of two of Saturday’s semifinals.
On Easter Sunday night earlier this week, Madison Keys was on the roof of the Grand Bohemian Hotel for the Volvo Car Open player party.
A big grin spread across her face. She was holding plastic Easter eggs in her hands.
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“I can’t find the golden egg!” She exclaimed to no one in particular. A host of other players around her were looking for that golden egg, too, promised – by tournament organizers – to have a nice prize in it for whoever found it.
Keys didn’t find said egg, but the Iowa-raised, Florida-residing American often has a smile splashed on her face while in Lowcountry. She was a finalist here in 2015 at the age of 20. It’s her sixth year playing here in a row. In 2013, her first appearance, she played Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. She’s grown up a lot since then.
Last year Keys was a finalist at the US Open and she’s made a brief appearance in the world's top 10. While 2018 hasn’t been kind to her after a run to the Australian Open quarterfinals, she seems to be finding her footing on the green clay courts this week.
She hadn’t won a match here since that 2015 run prior to Wednesday night when she stopped Lara Arruabarrena in three sets. Thursday she followed said win with a convincing performance over Camila Giorgi in straights.
She knows the crowd is on her side and she revels in it. Friday she plays fellow American (but lesser-known) Bernarda Pera. She’d like to continue the momentum she started a few days ago.
“I always just love coming here,” she said. “[Charleston] was one of my first finals. I always have amazing memories, and I always look forward to coming and playing in front of these fans. They are truly amazing.”
What is also amazing is how Keys has used her celebrity status. With over 350,000 combined followers on Twitter and Instagram, she’s joined forces with FearlesslyGIRL, a non-profit that empowers young girls, Keys speaking out on bullying and making a connection with adolescent females.
Friday she’ll be focused back on the tennis court. As the weekend approaches, she’ll be less in search of that golden egg and more on the Volvo Car Open trophy. Charleston will be cheering her on.
After working her way through a difficult three-set match to start her 2018 Volvo Car Open campaign, Daria Kasatkina found the form that brought her a maiden WTA title here a year ago.
Playing her all-court best and letting her serve and forehand soar, the No. 3 seed from Russia took just over an hour to trot past Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday afternoon inside Volvo Car Stadium.
No. 5 seed Julia Goerges represents one type of quarterfinalist Friday at the Volvo Car Open: The expected.
Four of the top eight seeds have advance to the business end of the tournament, with Cinderella stories – the unexpected – representing the second four players, a group that features the likes of a former French Open semifinalist in Kiki Bertens.
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