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April 27, 2021

Kiki Bertens

Madrid, Spain

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. I would like to know what do you feel now after withdraw in Charleston?

KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, I'm happy to be back here in Madrid. Of course, I have great memories here from two years ago, and also the years before.

I had to pull out, yes, out of Charleston, then I played one match during Fed Cup, and I had to pull out again of Stuttgart. I took some rest again, let my body rest a little bit. Now I feel ready to compete again.

Q. Your good memories here, you talk about it. Will it help about your confidence here, good memories?

KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, I think it will help me. Once I come here, I feel very well on the court. Like, it feels natural to me. Yeah, I don't know. I feel good once I step on the court. I'm feeling the ball well. I'm being here now for three days and practice is going well.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to my first-round match, see how that goes. Yeah, hopefully have some more matches and go from there, be stronger every day.

Q. Talk a little bit about what this tournament has meant to you in your career.

KIKI BERTENS: A lot, I would say. Already, of course, in '17 once I reached the quarters, that was a really, really big step. Then '18, I felt a little bit the pressure, like the points I had to defend, stuff like that. But then I made it to the final. '19, a little bit same situation. Then I won the tournament.

It's just like, I don't know, once I step out here, it feels good. I think the altitude is helping me a little bit. The balls are great. Of course, the courts, I really love them. Especially when you play on the center court or the other two courts, it's kind of indoors.

For me, it's like the perfect circumstances to play tennis. When it goes automatically with me, I think I play my best tennis. That's how I feel here. Hopefully I can do it one more year this year.

But, yeah, we'll see.

Q. A question about movement on clay. Your ability to slide into the ball to hit as opposed to slide past the ball, which a lot of less experienced players tend to do. Is that something when you look back on the early part of your career, that was something that's drilled in you, is it something that comes naturally because you realized that's the more efficient way to play clay court tennis? Can you give some insight into how that aspect, the movement, was something you became so good at.

KIKI BERTENS: Well, I think I'm one of the players who really grew up on clay. From the age of six, whole year I was on clay. Even outdoors, indoors, didn't matter. Yeah, from the age six to I would say 25 basically I was still on clay basically the whole time I was practicing. Only once I had tournaments, of course, on the hard courts, I was switching to that. But the rest of the year I was on clay.

For me it was just normal, the sliding and the grinding and the long points. Of course, I think like the ability I did that already from a young age, so I think that helped me a lot, yeah, during my whole career.

Q. A question about Wimbledon. I'm asking players for their favorite Wimbledon memories. I wonder what yours was. Maybe your first win there? Maybe beating Venus? What was your best memory?

KIKI BERTENS: Actually I have two, yes. My first win against Lucie Safarova. When the draw was made, I was still at home. Once I saw the draw, I was like, Oh, this is not going to be a really long trip to my first main draw of Wimbledon.

Also my parents came and watched. They booked a flight for the morning in the evening back home. They also didn't have much trust in me. Then I won. For me that was like a great victory, of course.

Then, yeah, to also be in the quarterfinals on grass, for me that was a huge thing. Before I had all my results on the clay courts, of course. Grass, it was really tough for me for the movement, but also for my game.

Yeah, to play that aggressive and to be in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, yeah, it's one of my best memories.

Q. Have you taken a look at the draw yet, your first opponent who is 15 years old, Victoria Jimenez. How dangerous can be an opponent that young?

KIKI BERTENS: Yeah, I just saw the draw. Of course, I don't know her. I've seen her, but I don't know how she really plays, so I have to look into that.

I think for her to get the opportunity to play here, it's great. It's always good to see new faces, especially the younger ones, of course.

Yeah, I just have to prepare, get some info, see how she's playing. Yeah, I just have to go with my own game, yeah, prepare well for the first round.

Q. A question about the Olympics. Are there any sports other than tennis, summer Olympic sports, that you would either love to play or could have seen yourself playing for The Netherlands at the Olympics?

KIKI BERTENS: Well, I think I really love handball. I grew up also with handball. I was playing that from the age six to 12. Then I had to choose between handball and tennis. I know some of the girls. In Rio, I watched almost all of their games. I'm following World Cups, tournaments like that.

That's the one sport, to be honest, I really watch more than tennis, yes.

Q. Looking ahead to Roland Garros, which tournament do you think is the best preparation for Roland Garros? Where are other conditions most similar to Roland Garros?

KIKI BERTENS: Well, it depends also in Paris. It can be different every day. Once it's warm, once it's colder. But I would say Rome is always pretty similar. But, yeah, it depends a lot on the weather, to be honest. It's going to be different every day.

I think really like here of course, the altitude is helping you a lot, also because it's a little bit indoors. I would say either Rome or the smaller events the week before Paris.

Q. Is Roland Garros the tournament where the conditions can change more than as any other clay court tournament?

KIKI BERTENS: Maybe, yes. Well, I think also the other European clay court season. If it's rainy and cold, it's really tough to play on the clay. It's so much more heavy. That can be in Paris, as well. Once the sun is out, it's really bouncing. It's way different. You have to adjust almost every day.

But for me, that's always what makes it fun and more challenging.

Q. In 2018 you were the runner-up here in Madrid. In 2019 you were the champion. Last year you won the virtual tournament. I would like to know do you usually spend time to playing video games?

KIKI BERTENS: Well, to be honest, it was my first time that I played on a PlayStation. I haven't spent lots of time. When I was younger, I had of course the Game Boy. I love to play board games, though. That's what we do a lot at home. Also on the tour, you always see me and my team playing games. I love the games. Yeah, not so much the video games.

It was a surprise, to be honest, that I won it last year. It was fun to do, like, the tournaments did something for us to make it more fun, yeah, to have at least some competition there.

Q. What are your favorite board games?

KIKI BERTENS: At the moment we do a lot of Qwixx, it's called. It's like with the dices. You know it probably. That's what we have done a lot over the last few weeks. Fed Cup, of course, 30 Seconds once we're with a big team. Yeah, always some fun.

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