Kiki Bertens, who reached the final in Madrid, is up to a career-high No. 15 and getting noticed by her fellow WTA players.
The two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova, who defeated Bertens in a long three-setter to win Madrid, says she has a terrific forehand and tremendous variety, which explains her success on clay.
“When she's playing Roland Garros, always playing great," said Kvitova, speaking to press following the final at Madrid. "Obviously she has a forehand with a lot of topspin, which is [putting the opponent] so much behind the baseline. It's pretty difficult to make some pressure to her. She can do whatever she wants.
Match point from Alexander Zverev's win over Dominic Thiem in the Madrid final:
"She has great hands, as well. She can do a lot of slices, drop shots. She has great volleys, everything.
"She's finding her serve, in the good moments. Speed-wise she has great serve, with the kick on the second. When she's sliding to those shots, she's always putting the ball back, and I [am] a meter behind the baseline. It's difficult to do anything from those balls.”
The 26-year-old, from the Netherlands, is a former French Open semifinalist and recently won the claycourt event at Charleston.
In Madrid, Bertens defeated former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova and the No. 7 Caroline Garcia.
Garcia says that her opponent is so consistent on clay and could push her way back behind the baseline.
“She was always bringing one more ball. When she was bringing it, it was not an easy ball I could finish,” Garcia said. “But sometimes I was feeling I was a little bit better in the rally, but she was playing this very long ball, very deep.
"We know she's playing her best on clay courts. She's moving very well.”
In Rome, Bertens will face Maria Sakkari in the first round.