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Anett Kontaveit beats Simona Halep to win Transylvania Open and qualify for WTA Finals
The Estonian is now the eighth and final qualifier for the season-ending WTA Finals, to be held in Guadalajara.
Published Oct 31, 2021
Anett Kontaveit put on a dazzling display of power tennis to beat Simona Halep in the final of the Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania on Sunday, 6-2, 6-3, a win that not only gave her a fourth title in her last seven tournaments, but also secured her a spot in the upcoming WTA Finals in Guadalajara.
Kontaveit is the eighth and final qualifier for the season-ending event in Mexico, joining Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova, Karolina Pliskova, Maria Sakkari, Iga Swiatek, Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa in the field.
The Estonian passed Ons Jabeur for the last spot in Guadalajara by winning Cluj-Napoca, and apologized to the Tunisian in her trophy speech.
“I’m so sorry, Ons, that I had to do this to you,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to next year—hopefully we can both make it!”
Jabeur was one of the first people to tweet congratulations to Kontaveit:
It looked like it was going to be a tight final between Kontaveit and Halep early on—after trading holds in the first two games, Halep brought up a break point with Kontaveit serving at 1-all. But the Estonian dug out the hold for 2-1, broke for 3-1 and never looked back until she had the first set after 28 minutes.
Halep started building some momentum from there, jumping out to a 2-0 second-set lead, but Kontaveit caught fire again, winning five games in a row to build a 6-2, 5-2 lead—Halep fought off a few match points, held and closed the gap to 6-2, 5-3, but Kontaveit swifty served it out in the next game.
The two finished with similar unforced errors, Kontaveit with 28 and Halep with 29, but the Estonian hit more than twice as many winners in the match, 21 to 9.
It was all over after an hour and 10 minutes on court.
“I’m kind of speechless,” said Kontaveit, who had never won a set against Halep in three previous meetings. “This week was incredible for me. Of course I’d like to congratulate Simona—you’re such a huge role model, I’ve looked up to you for so many years, and you’ve beaten me so many times.
“It was an honor to share a court with you.”
“Anett, you crushed me. But I had an amazing week," Halep said. "It was a tough year. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to play so well this week, but playing at home is always better. I’m sad that I couldn’t win, but Anett was too good today.
“Next year I will be here again.”
Halep also gave a special shout-out to her husband, Toni Iuruc, whom she married last month.
“As this is my first speech this year I would also like to thank my husband for the first time,” she said. “Thank you for being in my life.”
Following an injury-marred year, Halep was actually playing her first WTA final in more than 13 months, since winning Rome last September—it was the milestone 40th WTA final of her illustrious career, and she’s now 22-18 in those.