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Kiki Bertens: 'No extra pressure as one of French Open favourites'

Kiki Bertens: 'No extra pressure as one of French Open favourites'
© Reuters
Bertens is the second favourite for the title behind Simona Halep.

Kiki Bertens is telling herself the French Open is just another tournament as she goes into a grand slam among the title favourites for the first time.

The Dutchwoman has had a remarkable run since contemplating retirement at the end of 2017 because she was not enjoying tennis.

By the time she beat reigning French Open champion Simona Halep in the final of the Madrid Open earlier this month to climb to fourth in the world rankings, there was no question that Bertens was a serious contender to win her first grand slam title.

One of the few natural clay-courters among the leading women, only Halep has lower odds than a player whose only slam semi-final came here three years ago.

Bertens, who faces France's Pauline Parmentier in the first round on Monday, said: "I don't really put any pressure on myself, I would say.

"For me, it's just another tournament again and, like every tournament I go into this year, I try to play for the win.

"It's a little different, because I love to play here. I love the clay.

"I know still that my game is a bit better on clay. Maybe I can do a bit better here. But, for the rest, try and stay the same."

Another player with a first slam title potentially in her sights is second seed Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Bertens' conqueror Johanna Konta to win the joint biggest title of her career in Rome last weekend.

The Czech has traditionally had her best results on hard courts but is honing her clay-court skills with the help of coach Conchita Martinez, who reached the final at Roland Garros in 2000.

Martinez became Pliskova's full-time coach last month, and the 27-year-old said: "I think she understands my game well, so that's why everything is working. That's why I feel good, and we have the same goal.

"I'm feeling confident.

"From the beginning of the year, I started to play a little bit better. I was enjoying it more. And of course Conchita, she has a good influence on me, so she's helping me, especially now on the clay.

"I feel confident after I made the title in Rome, so there is no reason why I should not be feeling great."

Pliskova, who recovered from 1-5 down in the deciding set to stun Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-finals, and Bertens are two of five players who have a chance of overtaking Naomi Osaka this fortnight to become world number one.

The odds are in favour of the Japanese player, though, who can guarantee holding onto the position by reaching a third-consecutive slam final.


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