Anett Kontaveit, Gilles Muller continue breakthrough seasons

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Anett Kontaveit won her first career singles title at the Ricoh Open on grass. (AP)

One of the game’s bright young stars and a veteran having the best year of his long career won the women and men’s titles, respectively, at the Ricoh Open on grass in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.

Anett Kontaveit has been one of the WTA Tour’s breakout performers this year, and that improved level of play has guided the young Estonian to her first career singles title. While on the men's side, Gilles Muller added to his season of noteworthy accomplishments by capturing his second title of 2017.

Unseeded at the Ricoh Open, Kontaveit beat No. 8 seed Kristyna Pliskova in the first round and seventh-seed Lesia Tsurenko on her way to the final. In the title match, Kontaveit defeated fellow unseeded player Natalia Vikhlyantseva, 6-2, 6-3.

It’s been quite an impressive stretch for the 21-year-old over the past several months. She won a round in the main draw at each of the “Sunshine Double” tournaments, Indian Wells and Miami, after making it through the qualifying. After Miami, she reached her first final at the Ladies Open Biel Bienne.

Kontaveit then made the transition to clay and posted quarterfinal finishes in two of the more prestigious events on tour, in Stuttgart and Rome, where she beat world No. 1 Angelique Kerber.

Now, she’s a title winner on the grass, a perfect start with Wimbledon on the horizon. And having started the year at 121 in the world, she’ll be at a career-high 36 in Monday’s rankings.

For Muller, the men’s champion over Ivo Karlovic in a pair of tiebreak sets, 2017 has been a year of firsts—at 34 years old. A pro since 2001, Muller finally broke through to win a singles title this year in Sydney, Australia.

He’s also posted his career-best ranking this year, peaking at 26 in May. Along with Stuttgart champion Lucas Pouille, Muller has reached singles finals this year on hard, clay and grass courts.

Will he be able to make a dent in the draw at the third Grand Slam of the season? Surprisingly, the left-handed serve-and-volleyer has never made it past the third round at Wimbledon. But 2017 has been a year of defying the odds for Muller. Perhaps the veteran from Luxembourg has more magic in store.

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