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August 18, 2018

Kiki Bertens

Cincinnati, Ohio

K. BERTENS/P. Kvitova

3-6, 6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to make your first-ever hard court final in singles?
KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, it's unbelievable. It's such a great event, like a big one. Yeah, I'm really happy to be in this final.

Q. What were the keys for you today? What do you think you did well out there?
KIKI BERTENS: I think today in the beginning I was a little bit struggling. With the serve, especially. And also, Petra was returning really well and also serving good.

But then second set I was getting better and I was just -- yeah, I don't know. Until the end I felt fit, was going for my shots. My serve was going well in the end. It was just a matter of keeping going, I guess.

Q. What do you feel has been the turning point for you on the hard courts especially? Because it seems your trajectory from clay through the grass to this has just been great.
KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, I think over the last year we practiced a lot, like, to play more aggressive. And it's working out well now, so, yeah, I'm really glad with that.

Q. Did it take time to get that aggressive game working, particularly on the hard courts?
KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, it's tough. Like, for me on clay I was really used to play on clay with some heavier balls. But on the hard court, that doesn't do so much.

In the beginning of the year, I felt already that I was doing that better, but then still a lot of mistakes. I didn't really feel it. But, yeah, now I'm getting better and better every match.

Q. Tennis is such a long season, and Petra talked last night about how hard she trained in December. What was your December like this year?
KIKI BERTENS: It was hell (smiling). Yeah, no, it was really tough. Like, of course it's always nice to be home like that period of time, but the practices are really tough.

So I spent a lot of hours in the gym and on court just to get fit again, to get better. And also, I think the rest of the year I'm just doing a lot more fitness than I was used to do.

Q. Today was your ninth top-10 win of the season. I'm just wondering, what is the mentality like in these kind of matches? Because it seems that this year you're winning more than losing them. What's the mentality?
KIKI BERTENS: I don't know. No, I think also I'm less stressed. So before the match I'm less nervous than I used to be. Like, before I was, like, Oh, I play on center court and a lot of people are watching.

But now I'm just more relaxed, trying to just play my game, and then in the end we just see who won. Yeah, I think that's helping me.

Q. When did you get to the point where you feel that relaxation coming into big matches? It takes a while when you're new and you're on the court for a bit.
KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, it really takes a while. I think you just have to get used to it. I think over the last two years I had some great results, as well, but still, I was not really happy with my game, really happy with the way I felt like on tour.

But right now I'm just trying to relax also off court a bit more, and, yeah, that helped me also on court.

Q. You're obviously great on clay. What is it that you can do on clay that you have found that you can translate successfully onto a hard court?
KIKI BERTENS: I think now, like, with the movements, I think that's like the biggest switch I made. On the clay I think I'm moving pretty well with the sliding, like before I did, but right now I'm also more fast on the hard courts.

I'm getting more balls back and also using my slices more, some heavier balls, and then stepping in where I can. So it's just like a matter of what ball do I play when. But, yeah, I'm feeling that right now.

Q. Are there patterns that you use on clay very successfully that you have found have worked just as well for you on the hard court?
KIKI BERTENS: That's a little bit different, though. I really have to change the game. On the clay still I like to just go on the forehand rally and then I don't feel stressed at all. And on the hard courts, yeah, I have to do something more, because otherwise they go long line and stuff.

But that's what we, I think, trained a lot of times during the offseason, as well. Just first two or three shots that are really important, especially on the hard courts, and so that's what we put a lot of work in.

Q. Sliding on hard courts is kind of a new thing. Have you looked at all what Novak does with his shoes? Is that anything you...
KIKI BERTENS: Well, I think if I slide once then my season is over (smiling). I will not try that, no.

Q. When I spoke to you in Dubai before the tournament, I remember you were saying that you didn't really have the confidence on hard courts, and obviously you just mentioned you practiced a lot. But mentally, have you worked with a sports psychologist or have you done anything differently so your mentality on the surface changes?
KIKI BERTENS: I did in the past, last year. Last year I worked with someone about that, but that's, like -- of course it helped me, also, but also it got me a little bit more stress.

So from this year on, I said, Okay, I'm not doing anything with that anymore. I'm just trying to relax, train hard every day, and then we tried it in the matches, as well, and that's it.

Q. You have Halep or Sabalenka next. Your thoughts on either of them? What do you think you'll have to do?
KIKI BERTENS: I think that's going to be a great match. Halep is playing some great tennis. Won of course last week. Yeah, she's having her shots there. But Sabalenka, also, she's having a great year, hitting the ball so hard.

Yeah, I'm looked forward to whoever it's gonna be. Yeah, I'm really happy that I'm in this final. For me, it doesn't matter who's gonna win.

Q. Do you feel as though in the years past when you were sometimes less happy on the court and kind of struggling with the stress of everything compared to this year, is it like night and day? Or is it in terms of your mentality and approach going into this season? Or do you feel like you have made small adjustments to...
KIKI BERTENS: No, I think in the end of last year I was really, like, not happy with the way I felt. I was like, okay, I don't want to continue like this. So if I have to feel like this all the time on the court it's better to stop.

From then on, I just made some rules for myself and with Raemon, like, Okay, how do you want to play? How do you want to feel on court? Okay. Let's go for that. Yeah, that's working.

Q. When you say it's better to stop, are you saying you were thinking of not continuing tennis?
KIKI BERTENS: At that point, I really was. Of course, the season is so long. So at the end you're completely dead. Of course it was a really good thing that we reached Singapore in doubles, but, yeah, that was not a great time there.

Of course we made the final, but, like, mentally it was really tough. I really needed a break, needed a holiday to think about, yeah, how I wanted to continue. But I think if I was feeling the same now as how I felt last year, then it was better for me to stop, yes.

Q. What was bothering you the most?
KIKI BERTENS: Like what I said, I had some great results, but still I could not really enjoy it. So it was always like if I won, okay, it was like more kind of a relief and not like happiness and already saying, Okay, but tomorrow I have to go again. Everything was more like, Okay, I really have to do this and not, like, Okay, it's another opportunity to play some great tennis.

Q. You mentioned relaxing off court more. What are you doing, what kinds of activities, or not doing anything?
KIKI BERTENS: Sometimes not doing anything, but just watching a movie, or I also do some yoga, which really helps me to just calm down. Just going for a coffee or read a book. It's just really simple things, but just take some time away from the tennis.

Q. In the last year since everything changed, are you able to say what the most important thing you have learned is?
KIKI BERTENS: I think like that you can achieve everything. Like, if you really work hard, a lot of things are possible.

Yeah, I think you see that with me. I would have never believed, I think, that I would have come so far, but it is still happening. I think there is still a way to improve. So, yeah, I just keep on going and working hard.

Q. You have had all these big wins this year. Lots of success going deep into tournaments. Have any of those results surprised you? And are you at a point where those wins have made you confident to the point where you feel like you can do anything on the court? Nothing surprises you anymore?
KIKI BERTENS: Maybe a little bit of a surprise, yes, because I never did really well on the hard courts. So this year, like, going -- or in the grass, as well, so being in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, that really gave me a boost, like, Okay, I can really do this.

Yeah, also with Raemon, when we flew to the States, it was, like, Yeah, maybe you can just play a final in one of these weeks. I was, like, Yeah, sure. But I was not really believing it.

But, yeah, I'm just playing good tennis. I would not say I'm playing, like, the best I ever did, but it's just feeling well. It's working well. Yeah, I feel good with it.

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