Kiki Bertens is looking forward to the Australian Open with confidence. The 28-year-old tennis player feels fit for the Grand Slam tournament that starts on Monday in Melbourne.
"It is hard work, but I am ready to go all the way here," says Bertens to Eurosport on Friday. "I have a very good feeling and I am happy with the way Elise is doing now."
This year, Elise Tamaëla is for the first time the permanent coach of the current number ten in the world, a role she has taken over from Raemon Sluiter. With Tamaëla along the track, Bertens started her season last week with two victories in Brisbane, after which she lost in three sets in the quarter-finals to top player Naomi Osaka.
"It just went well in Brisbane, it was the perfect start to the year," said Bertens, who, together with Australian world ranking captain Ashleigh Barty, made the final in doubles and played a total of six games.
"Of course you hope to drag out such a match against Osaka, but I played three good singles. The level was good, also how I felt on the track, and I gained a lot of rhythm."
Kiki Bertens prepared for the Australian Open in Brisbane. (Photo: Getty Images)
"Think Achilles tendon won't be a problem"
Bertens was actually planning to play in Adelaide this week, but due to an Achilles tendon injury, she retired from the WTA tournament in the Australian city.
"I have been bothered by that for a while, but my cancellation was more precautionary. I was able to rest a few days and train in Melbourne. I think my Achilles tendon will not be a problem for the Australian Open."
The poor air quality in Melbourne due to the forest fires could possibly cause a problem at the first Grand Slam of the year. "It is terrible what is happening in Australia," says Bertens. "I haven't trained on days when the air quality is poor. Today it was a lot better, hopefully it will stay that way. If it gets bad, the organization might have to intervene."
The Dutch starts her eighth Australian Open with a first-round match against the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu (WTA-105). Bertens' best performance in Melbourne is reaching the third round in 2018. Last year, she lost in the second round to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from Russia.