It took an hour and 45 minutes for the Dutch lady with 7 WTA singles and 10 doubles titles to come up with awesome shots, tactics and just gritty play to defeat the Croatian who certainly was no pushover. Donna Vekic has won 2 WTA singles titles and was hungry to add this one to her resume appearing in her first premiere level event.
Kiki Bertens had other ideas and came through with the win and title of 7-6, 6-4. "He tried to calm me down and said keep going for my shots," Bertens had commented about the conversation she had with her coach when she had presented such a dodgy start to the championship match.
Vekic had burst out of the opening set, hitting strong cross courts and finding the open court to quickly lead 2-0. Bertens was playing hard but Vekic had the answers. She continued to keep the heat on Bertens and had blasted a backhand volley towards the Dutchwoman that she couldn't return.
It was 5-4 with the Croatian leading, that her game was changed by Bertens who obviously followed some of her coach's advice and became more aggressive and dictated shots well enough to bring the game into a tiebreak.
What a scary time for Bertens who could have let this set slip into Vekic's hands. This new attitude was real and constant with Bertens giving Vekic first a sliced drop shot, then passing shots. The Croatian was sent diving for returns not being able to make the returns.
It wasn't long that Bertens won the tiebreak 7-6 and was on a spurt of digging deep to be consistently winning points. The second set had Vekic maintain her composure, her poker face not telling how unnerved she might have been at being down by 1-3.
Bertens felt this to be her set and kept the pressure steaming on Vekic to get the win. She must have lost concentration because soon the set was 4-all with the Dutchwoman breathing deeply, sweat trinkling down her forehead, wondering what she could do to win this match.
It took a down-the-line and a short sliced volley, with Vekic back at the baseline to win the break and lead 5 to 4. It was no secret, Vekic and the crowd knew it was Bertens' match as she blasted balls back to the Croatian in defiance to win the set 6-4, the match 7-6, 6-4 and the title, her 8th this far.
She waved to the crowd and gave a big smile to her team. Trophy presentations can be compromised between translations in Russian and English, but Vekic smiled sweetly and said to the crowd "You made the atmosphere really good and I hope I can come back next year and win for you."
But there was no shame because both players put it all out there on the court with Bertens being the one more consistent. Vekic gave kudos to a smiling Bertens saying "Congrats to Kiki and your team. You were too good for me today."
The laugh was on both of them but in tennis one time you're opponents and the next comrades. Vekic ended her short speech on a pleasant note saying that "I'm really looking forward to playing doubles with you in Indian Wells." Bertens shook her head in acknowledgment and gave a broad smile as the trophy ceremonies were slowing ending.