Kiki Bertens can continue her dream May with another win on Saturday on Rome, looking to make her second straight Premier final after Madrid. She will be the favourite against Johanna Konta, a somewhat surprising name to see at this stage of the tournament on clay.
We were denied a potential thriller between Bertens and Naomi Osaka after the World No.1 withdrew on Friday following a hectic Thursday. The day’s rest will be a relief for the Dutchwoman, who spent over 4 hours on court in two mentally draining three set wins against Amanda Anisimova and Carla Suarez Navarro to get to this stage. She will be considered a French Open contender now but isn’t thinking about it at this stage. “I just put more pressure on myself. Right now I want every week play as good as possible. When the French is coming, we try and do the same there again and then we see afterwards.” she said.
With four consecutive round one losses at Roland Garros, Konta wouldn’t have been seen as a player who could go deep in any higher tier clay event but has managed to do so impressively here. It hasn’t been a run where the draw has broken down – she beat Alison Riske, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and now Marketa Vondrousova to make it to the last four. The last of those wins came in three sets, after a strong final set blew away the Czech for a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory. It follows her Rabat final, where she lost in three to Maria Sakkari.
Bertens can go to No.2 in the rankings if she wins the title here and she is favoured to do so from the four remaining entrants. With just a third round to defend at Roland Garros, the tour’s form player could be World No.1 going into Wimbledon – something that both her and us would never have expected at the start of the year. She is 2-2 against Konta but two of those meetings came in 2012 when both players were outside the top 140.
Prediction – Kiki Bertens in straight sets