Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic faced Netherland’s Kiki Bertens in the final of the Korea Open in Seoul. Bertens has been in good form in 2018 having recently defeated world no. 1 Simona Halep in the final of the Cincinnati Premier 5 event ahead of the US Open.
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Photo: Kiki Bertens won her third WTA title of 2018 (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Tomljanovic had the early break, only to concede, then break again for a 3-2 lead. Tomljanovic hit long at 30-40 in the next game to give back the break.
Bertens save a break point at 4-4, games continued on serve and in the 12th game, Tomljanovic was 40-0 ahead before Bertens got to deuce. Several ad points came and went for Tomljanovic before she finally won the game to take the first set into a tiebreaker.
Bertens gave her opponent a mini-break when she missed badly wide. The next point Bertens hit back with aggressive play that saw her volley a winner. Bertens then ran away with the breaker to claim the first set 7-6(2).
As she had done in the first set it was Tomljanovic that got the early break to lead 2-0 after a drop shot winner brought up the breakpoint and the game was conceded from 40-15 when Bertens saw her shot hit the net and then go wide.
A down the line winner from Bertens at 30-40 gave her the break back to be serving at 1-2. The Dutch player was hitting with more power and was controlling the points as Tomljanovich was scrambling to stay in points.
At 3-3 Tomljanovic served a double fault at 30-30 to give Bertens a breakpoint. Then on the next point, Tomljanovic played a crosscourt approach which Bertens then guided down the line to win the game and move to a 4-3 lead.
Bertens opened the next game with a double-fault, one that bounced before the net. On the next point, Tomljanovic moved to 0-30 with a drop shot winner. The a shot just beyond the baseline gave Tomljanovic three break points. The Australian missed a golden opportunity as she dragged a high backhand volley into the net. Bertens fought back to deuce before on the fourth break point the Dutch player conceded the break to see the set at 4-4.
At 0-30 some fantastic hitting from Tomljanovic saw her win a point to avoid going down three break points. From 0-30 the world no. 53 won the four points to take a 5-4 lead.
With Bertens serving to stay in the second set it was again a drop shot that got Tomljanovich the opening point. Bertens hit back with back-to-back aces. That took her tally to six. A bad shot into the net got the Australian to 30-30. A shot pulled wide by Bertens gave Tomljanovic a set point. Another shot into the net saw Tomljanovich take the set 6-4. The fifth straight match that Tomljanovich had played which was taken into a third and deciding set.
In the opening game of the third set, Tomljanovic saved a breakpoint with a great passing shot after Bertens had tracked down a drop shot. Bertens gave Tomljanovic the game when she wildly hit long a swinging volley.
Bertens jumped out to 30-0 before Tomljanovic charged to 30-40 but Bertens saved the break with a sharp inside out cross court shot. Tomljanovic earned another break point when she played a lunging volley that flew high off of her racquet and was spinning towards the net. As Bertens rushed to play her shot without hitting the net she pushed a shot wide. Tomljanovich then ripped a backhand return to claim the break.
Match Highlights Video
In the next game, Bertens hit a forehand winner at deuce to bring up a break back point. Tomljanovic let a 40-15 lead slip as she gave up the break when pulling a shot wide. Just when you thought the Australian was getting on top Bertens got herself back in the match serving at 1-2.
Bertens held, then broke for a 3-2 lead as Tomljanovic threw in some unforced errors. Another hold for Bertens saw her out to a commanding 4-2 advantage.
A forehand winner saw Bertens take the opening point with Tomljanovich serving. That gave her momentum to go on and win the game to set up a 5-2 lead. Bertens was then serving for her third WTA title in 2018.
At 30-30 Tomljanovic earned a break point with a great drop shot, but she was not able to convert. Bertens held her nerve and served out the game to claim the title with a 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-2. The winning point was a nice forehand passing shot.
Last year Bertens won the doubles titles, this year the singles. With the win she will rise to no. 11 in the rankings.
Tomljanovic is still searching for her first WTA title, she will, however, move back into the top 50. She will look back to the third game in the deciding set when she let slip a 40-15 lead.
The match saw 11 aces for Bertens, to one from Tomljanovic. The double faults were 7-3 for Bertens. Unforced errors were close with 39 from Bertens and 32 from the Australian, however, the winners saw Bertens well in front with 40-18. The match lasted 2 hours 22 minutes.
In the Japan Open Karolina Pliskova denied Naomi Osaka a title on home soil.