KIKI BERTENS: “ I AM REALLY A HAPPY PERSON RIGHT NOW!”
3 February 2019
Could you share with us your impressions from this unbelievable victory, your first even in St. Petersburg?
Yes, it was great coming into this week, I was just trying to play some good tennis, getting my first win ever here in St. Petersburg. Overall it was a great tournament with some great tennis. It’s a great feeling to hold the trophy now.
How heavy is this trophy for you in the direct and figurative sense of the word?
It was a really tough week I would say. I think every tournament is always tough, you always have your challenges. I think I played great the whole week. Today in the final it didn’t start well, but I was still able to turn the match around. So I’m really proud of that. It’s really good feeling to have my first title of 2019 so early in the year.
Last year you pulled out of your first round match against Zvonareva here in St. Petersburg. But now it made a whole world of difference: now you are Top 10 player, you play confidently. What helped to make the change? What were the factors which helped you to make this tremendous change in your career?
I think, experience. I think in 2016 I already had a good run in Paris, reaching the semis in Roland Garros. And after that there were a lot of things going on. I couldn’t really focus on tennis. I would say that 2017 was a good year for me, but I wasn’t happy at all on court. I was stressed too much, I didn’t enjoyed it at all. So I was close to quitting the game. I just had to get back my energy, get back my focus. That’s what I did on holiday. I set some new goals for 2018, which were really going well I would say. It was my best year of my career so far. Right now I’m just enjoying my tennis, I’m enjoying life on and off the court. I’m just really happy person right now.
When you picked up your smart phone, who was the first one tO congratulate you on the victory?
To be honest I haven’t checked my phone yet (laughter). I didn’t have time for that. So I have no idea, but probably it’s my parents.
Both you and DJnna were talking about playing doubles at the Indian Wells. Could you elaborate on that?
Well, I think two days ago in physio before our matches we were just chatting with Donna, and she asked: “Are you going to play doubles in Indian Wells?”. I answered: “Well, I don’t have someone yet, what about you?”. She was like: “I’m searching”. And I said: “Ok, let’s play then”. It’s going to be a fun week, I would say. We always have tough matches against each other, so for sure she is a great player, great girl. For sure we will have a lot of fun on the court in doubles as well.
What would be your most bright memory from this tournament: something, which you have never seen anywhere else, but only here?
Well, I would say like this great show they put together at the closing ceremony. It was incredible. I’ve never seen that before. Being on the court there and seeing all the dancers, the singer, the performance was unbelievable. I think the whole tournament organization was just great. I felt really a little bit like home, and we were treated here very well.
You are not playing in the Fed Cup for the Netherlands next year, why?
Because I always find it tough to go from indoors to outdoors. I’m playing in Doha the week after, and to play Fed Cup indoors at home at the weekend and then maybe play on Monday again in Doha – it’s too tough for me, too tough on the body. So I decided to not play the first week for my country.
You were 2/5 down in the first set and ended up wining 7/6. How can you explain it? Are these the little nuances of women’s tennis as they say, it’s all about psychology? You were in 0/40, then you crushed on the court, believing you won the match, you got kind of relaxed, and then it turned down the ball was in. Did you have any doubts going through your mind at this point?
I didn’t start well. I was 2/5 down, I need to say Donna played a good match. I was just trying to focus a little bit more, trying to go for the shots. Then I started a little bit better, maybe that will be good for the 2nd set. But still I could turn around the first set. Very few points made the difference.
As for match-point, I believed the ball was out, but it wasn’t. And after the 2nd match- point I was thinking that in Brisbane I also held match-points against Donna and then I lost it. I was getting a little bit nervous there. I would say that I was a little bit lucky at the end, winning the last match point with a netball.
Have you heard that organizers put the Dutch music between the sets? Do you think it’s a sign of support after not so good results in previous years?
I didn’t hear it. I was too focused (laughter). Sorry.
Kiki Mladenovic won St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and came back as Top-10 player. Then Petra Kvitova won it and now she’s World No.2. What is the goal for you if you come back to St. Petersburg next year?
I just want to come back here and be happy, playing this amazing tournament.
What will be the most memorable match for you here, maybe the easiest or the toughest one?
I think the final, because the final is always a match you remember. I had here great support and I’m just really happy with my 8th title here in St. Petersburg.
A few years ago, you beat the whole Russian Fed Cup team all alone, winning both singles rubbers and the doubles match, you kept coming back and now you won the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2019, why do you do so well in Russia?
I don’t know. During the week, I was asked the question why I never win anything in Russia. But at night, when I was lying in bed, I thought that it was not true. And then I remembered that I won Fed Cup tie here in Russia. So yeah, it is not my first victory in Russia. But here, in St. Petersburg it was an unbelievable week. I really like it here. The players are very well treated here. Everybody is so nice. I felt very welcome.
What is your diminutive name? How do you grandparents call you?
No, I don’t have one. I am always called Kiki or Kik.
Today’s match was not just a match of flying balls, but of the flying rackets as well. I don’t remember you throwing rackets, but Donna did it a couple of times. If you throw your racket occasionally, does it help you to vent off your anger? And relax right after?
Sometimes it does, but I am not proud of it. A few weeks ago, I was throwing some rackets. After that I came to my coach and said that I must stop it. So we made some rules, like if I throw a racket I need to pay fine. I am not throwing it anymore (laughter).