Netherlands captain Paul Haarhuis has expressed his disappointment at Kiki Berten’s absence from this weekend’s Fed Cup tie, but backed his under-strength team to deliver a fighting performance against Australia.
The top-ranked Dutch player, Bertens has chosen to remain overseas to focus on the clay court season in the lead up to the French Open in six weeks time.
“Yes, I’m obviously disappointed to have our number one player not in the team,” Haarhuis said. “She’s a formidable Fed Cup player, she’s won almost all her matches in her career. You definitely miss somebody like that, but I understand why she’s not here.”
The world No.21’s prowess on clay was on display when she swept aside Julia Georges in last week’s final of the Charleston Open in South Carolina and she’s hoping to build towards a deep Roland Garros run.
“It’s clay court season right now, everybody’s playing in Europe,” Haarhuis said. “Her clay court season she always says is her most important season, that’s where she has the most confidence in doing well. She showed it by winning the first big clay court tournament of the season last week.
“Yes we do miss her, but we’ll see this weekend how much we miss her. Even with her in the team, we wouldn’t have been favourites, but yes it’s always nice if all your best players play.”
Despite Berten’s absence, Haarhuis backed his team to do everything they can to pull off the upset victory.
“Our girls have the level to beat any of the Australian girls on any day in one match.”