Strong finish propels Kontaveit to Guadalajara

In 2021, Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit grew to become the poster baby for the age-old adage, “It is not how your begin, it is the way you end.” The 25-year-old grew to become the primary Estonian to qualify for the Akron WTA Finals Guadalajara after profitable 4 of her final seven tournaments of the season to safe her High 10 debut.

Here is how Kontaveit’s career-best season unfolded: 

Overcoming exhausting quarantine in Melbourne

Beginning the yr ranked No.27, Kontaveit opened her season with a loss to eventual finalist Veronika Kudermetova in Abu Dhabi after which discovered herself among the many 47 gamers who landed in exhausting quarantine on account of shut contact upon arrival to Melbourne.

The Estonian emerged from the 2 weeks and tallied her first closing of the season on the Grampians trophy. However the Kontaveit would really feel the lingering results of quarantine for months to return. After making the quarterfinals in Doha, the place she misplaced to eventual champion Petra Kvitova, she posted a Spherical of 16 displaying in Dubai, shedding to Sabalenka.

Highway to WTA Finals, singles

Highway to WTA Finals, doubles

This development of working up in opposition to the tour’s high gamers and narrowly shedding out would proceed for Kontaveit by the clay season, the place her three losses would come to Sabalenka once more within the Stuttgart quarterfinals, Maria Sakkari within the second spherical of Madrid and Iga Swiatek within the third spherical of Roland Garros. 

“I used to be working so exhausting and I saved shedding to High 10 gamers persistently,” Kontaveit instructed WTA Insider. “I felt like I used to be doing properly, I used to be taking part in actually good tennis, and I used to be simply falling quick to those actually good gamers. I am attempting so exhausting and it isn’t working in opposition to these gamers, nevertheless it’s form of foolish as a result of I used to be shedding to those actually good gamers who had been taking part in actually good tennis. 

“However I all the time have this factor the place I all the time wish to do higher than what I am doing. In some unspecified time in the future I used to be considering, ‘OK, possibly I am simply not meant to beat them or one thing.’ This demotivating thought went into my head.” 

Eastbourne closing rekindles grass success

Kontaveit was taking part in properly popping out of the clay season, however she had little to indicate for it. Her rating was nonetheless caught at No.27 and he or she had parted methods with coach Nigel Sears earlier within the spring.

However the transition to grass sparked a surge, as she powered by a troublesome draw to make her second closing of the season in Eastbourne. En route, Kontaveit defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova, Bianca Andreescu, Viktorija Golubic and Camila Giorgi to make her second profession grass-court closing. (She received her solely WTA title in s’Hertogenbosch in 2017.) 

Summer time drought results in new teaching rent

However Kontaveit’s Eastbourne surge can be short-lived. Her 6-3, 6-3 loss to Jelena Ostapenko within the all-Baltic closing would kick off a five-match shedding streak by the summer time. Whether or not it was a dip in kind or the luck of the draw – the losses got here to Ostapenko (Eastbourne), Marketa Vondrousova (Wimbledon), Maria Sakkari (Olympics), Jessica Pegula (Montreal) and Ons Jabeur (Cincinnati) – Kontaveit discovered herself reeling.

That is when Kontaveit introduced on Dmitry Tursunov, the veteran ATP participant who had coached Aryna Sabalenka into the High 10. 

“I wasn’t certain if I used to be doing the best factor for a while,” Kontaveit mentioned. “I used to be just a little bit misplaced, I might say. With Dmitry becoming a member of the crew, I really feel like I am doing the best factor once more. I really feel just like the course the place I am heading is correct once more.

“It is simply introduced this new power and just a little bit extra self-belief to my sport. It taught me methods to be just a little bit extra constructive.”

Cleveland title sparks season-ending surge

Of their first event collectively in Cleveland, Kontaveit snapped her shedding streak with a three-set win over Lauren Davis within the first spherical and proceeded to march to her first WTA title since 2017. Defeating Caroline Garcia, Katerina Siniakova and Sara Sorribes Tormo en path to the ultimate, Kontaveit lastly clinched her second WTA title with a 7-6(5), 6-4 win over Irina-Camelia Begu.

Champions Nook: How Kontaveit rediscovered her pleasure and received again on observe in Cleveland

Kontaveit went into Cleveland sitting at No.30 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals. Cleveland was only the start of a exceptional dash to the tip of the season to snag the ultimate qualifying spot for Guadalajara. 

Kontaveit wins the most important title of her profession in Ostrava

After a third-round displaying on the US Open, the place she bowed out to Swiatek, Kontaveit stormed to her second title of the season and the most important in Ostrava. To win her first WTA 500 title, Kontaveit didn’t lose a set in opposition to a assassin’s row of opponents, defeating Sorana Cirstea, Paula Badosa, Belinda Bencic, Petra Kvitova and Maria Sakkari within the closing. 

“I feel I’ve all the time had good pictures technically,” Kontaveit mentioned. “I do not assume there’s something dramatically flawed with my sport. It is a lot within the head. 

I simply assume I am taking part in in a extra constructive and safer manner, not doing an excessive amount of however being aggressive. I feel I am shifting nice. I am taking a look at issues in a extra constructive manner, which I feel interprets in my sport.”

By the point Kontaveit confronted Jabeur within the Spherical of 16 at Indian Wells, the Estonian was driving a nine-match win streak and had received 16 of her final 17 matches. Jabeur would finish her streak with a 7-5, 6-3 win, however Kontaveit’s late season surge had put her within the working to sneak the ultimate spot in Guadalajara from Jabeur. 

All Kontaveit needed to do was go undefeated for the rest of the season.

Ten consecutive wins locks in High 10 debut, WTA Finals qualification

Kontaveit had already tallied 5 straight wins beneath the roof in Ostrava and would end her marketing campaign on a 15-match winning-streak indoors, sealing her High 10 debut and first WTA Finals qualification with one of the exceptional season finishes of current observe. 

In Moscow, Kontaveit took dwelling her third title of the yr with a battling run to the title. She defeated Garbiñe Muguruza within the quarterfinals and Marketa Vondrousova within the semifinals. She then rallied from 6-4, 4-0 down within the closing to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. 

“I did not assume something like this was ever doable,” Kontaveit mentioned. “Even after profitable Moscow, I got here [to Cluj-Napoca] and thought, ‘That is such a longshot. What am I even doing? I am exhausted. That is so exhausting.'”

It could have been exhausting, however Kontaveit made it look simple. Profitable her fourth event in seven occasions, the Estonian didn’t lose a set all week in Cluj-Napoca, defeating Simona Halep 6-2, 6-3 within the closing. The victory sealed her ticket to Guadalajara in addition to historical past for Estonia and the 25-year-old grew to become the primary girl from her nation to debut within the High 10. 

Champions Nook: Behind Kontaveit’s unbelievable season turnaround

In sum, Kontaveit went 19-13 by her first 14 tournaments of 2021. She completed the yr going 26-2 over her final seven tournaments, profitable 4 titles to take a seat behind No.1 Ashleigh Barty for many titles this season, and ending the perfect season of her profession with a 45-15 report. 


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