CHARLESTON, SC, USA - She needed nearly three hours to get to the final, but once there, Kiki Bertens needed less than half that time to claim her biggest career title.
The World No.27, and No.12 seed, cruised to her first Premier-level trophy at the Volvo Car Open in her second match of the day on Sunday, defeating No.5 seed Julia Goerges, 6-2, 6-1 in 58 minutes.
"I know I can play good on clay, but it was just a great feeling," Bertens said after the match. "I think in the final Julia didn't play her best, but still, I was just trying to play aggressive where I could, just to hit some balls in the court when she was...making some errors. I think overall I did a really good job.
Earlier in the day, Bertens saved a match point to oust American Madison Keys in a two hour, 43-minute semifinal, as the American twice served for the match.
Less than six hours later, she beame the first Dutch singles champion in the storied history of the event.
"It's just unbelievable. I think I cannot really realize it yet, but I'm just so happy and proud I think of myself," Bertens said of adding her name to the tournament's honor roll.
"It's a great start of the clay court season, and hopefully still more to come, but this one I have already and I'm really happy with that."
Though she spent nearly twice the amount of time on-court in her semifinal match in the morning against the American No.7 seed, Bertens bested Goerges with a display of the controlled, counterpunching tennis which has seen her excel on clay in recent seasons.
The 2016 French Open semifinalist took advantage of 31 unforced errors off of Goerges' racquet, hitting just nine herself, and broke serve five times to score her second career win against the soon-to-be German No.1.
Goerges staved off the bagel, and a sixth break of serve, with bold play to save two match points en route to a hold late in the second set, but Bertens calmly served out the match to love to secure her fifth WTA title and first above International level.
"I was not really thinking about [winning] yet," Bertens said of the final game. "Maybe because I had some match points already at 5-0, so I was still thinking, 'Maybe you lose this match.' I just focused point by point, and when the last ball went out, I was just so happy, and then it really kicked in."
Goerges, who is projected to return to German No.1 at World No.11 in Monday's rankings ahead of Angelique Kerber, saw a winning streak in finals snapped in defeat.
The 29-year-old came into the match having won her last three WTA finals, claiming the title at the Kremlin Cup and the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai to end last season, and winning the Auckland Open to kick off this season.
"I have to give credit to her because she played very solid. She didn't give a lot of mistakes, so I really had to work for every point," Goerges said. "I wasn't really able to play every point as tough as I did in the semifinals."
A key moment in the match overall came early on Bertens' serve in the first set, as Goerges held two break point opportunities in the seventh game but was unable to get the set back on serve.
"I was trying to find solutions to somehow get back into it. I've done it pretty well the whole week to find somehow, some ways out of tough situations...but at the end, what's counting is that you find a solution to get going and to get playing well.
"She was serving pretty good in that game, especially in the important points."
Though the challenge of seeing Saturday's play washed out due to rain and playing two matches in one day is a unique one, Bertens credited her earlier victory with giving her the mental push to play her best in the final.
"It was a really tough match, I think it was good tennis," she said of the semifinal. "[I got] a little bit nervous to close it out in the second set, and there you are in the third set. I just kept on going, kept on fighting, even when I was match point down.
"I think what I said to myself before the final was, 'Okay, you could already have lost this morning, so just give everything and try to go for it, and now, I'm here with the trophy."
With the win, Bertens will rise six places in Monday's rankings to No.21, just three spots off of her career-high of No.18.
"I'm just going to try and do this again in the next event that I will play. I'm just trying to play better match by match. I felt that this week in the beginning it was not great, but every match went a little bit better.
"Still, I think I can play better than I did this week, so I think that's only a good thing."
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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.