LONDON, July 6 (Reuters) - It took Kiki Bertens six match points - over two matches in two different continents - to at long last nail that final point to topple Venus Williams.
Three months after the 26-year-old Dutchwoman came agonisingly close to claiming one of the most famous scalps in tennis as she held - but failed to convert - three match points against Williams in the Miami Open, Bertens was whooping with joy at Wimbledon.
Her heart must have been doing somersaults as she once again saw two match points vanish within a blink of an eye on Friday but when she earned a third in the 14th game of the deciding set, one can only imagine the cocktail of emotions that surged through her body.
“I had a few match points in Miami and lost so of course that was going through my mind but I told myself to keep going,” Bertens said following the 6-2 6-7(5) 8-6 victory that carried her into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time.
“I told myself, ‘you’re in the Wimbledon third round, never reached the fourth round so you have nothing to lose so go for your shots’.”
That strategy worked wonders because not only did she record her first ever victory over a Williams sister, having also lost to Serena three times, it also carried the 20th seed into the fourth round of a non-claycourt major for the first time.
Until Friday, Roland Garros had been the only slam where she had gone further than the third round, with a semi-final run in 2016 being the highlight.
Considering all five of her titles have been won on the slowest surface the sport has to offer, her run at the grasscourt major has been a bit of a surprise and that too at the expense of a five-times Wimbledon champion.
Now Bertens has got the belief that she can also cause havoc on tennis’ lush green lawns, her expectations have sky rocketed.
“Coming into Wimbledon, (if someone had told me I would) be in the fourth round here, I would definitely (have) signed (up) for that,” Bertens said with a smile.
“Everyone keeps on telling me I can play well on grass. But I was not really believing it. (Now) I’m trying really to believe it.
“I think I can play really well on grass when my serve is going well, when I really play aggressive, when I believe in it, then I think I can play well. It has all come together,” added Bertens, who will next face seventh seed Karolina Pliskova. (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond)