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Anett Kontaveit holds off Maria Sakkari to reach biggest final of career at WTA Finals
The Estonian improved to 7-0 in semifinals this year with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over the Greek in Guadalajara.
Published Nov 17, 2021
In a match full of momentum shifts it was Anett Kontaveit who had the last one, holding off a late surge from Maria Sakkari to prevail, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, and reach the biggest final of her career at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.
The Estonian improved to 7-0 in semifinal matches this year with the win.
“I still can’t believe I’m even here,” she said after the two-hour, two-minute victory.
“I’m so proud of myself. I’m so happy to be competing at this level.”
There was very little between the two players in their head-to-head coming into the match, Sakkari leading the series, 6-5—but Kontaveit’s been arguably the hottest player on the women’s tour over the last few months, and she came out swinging, powering through the opening set in just 27 minutes.
She threatened to keep that momentum going early on in the second set, bringing up two break points with Sakkari serving in the first game, and then another one with Sakkari serving at 3-all—but Sakkari fought them all off, broke for the first time all night for a 5-3 lead and then held to send the match to a third set.
After four straight holds Sakkari struck again, breaking for 3-2—but Kontaveit caught fire one last time from there, breaking right back at love and then holding at love to go up 4-3, and eventually making it four games in a row to close it out.
“When I went a break down in the third set I thought, ‘If this is my last match, I’m really going to enjoy it,’ and I think that really ended up changing things around for me,” Kontaveit said. “I felt more free, and I had a lot more fun.”
Sakkari upped her game after the first set—that set she had 2 winners to 13 unforced errors, but the rest of the match she had 15 winners to 18 unforced errors.
But Kontaveit was solid throughout, finishing with 32 winners to 34 unforced errors.
“It’s never easy playing Maria. I think we play each other almost every tournament!” Kontaveit said. “She’s such a great player and such a good fighter. It’s just important to focus on the game, and we’re going to be friends after the match again.”
Awaiting No. 8-ranked Kontaveit in the final will be No. 5-ranked Garbine Muguruza.
Muguruza leads that head-to-head, 3-2, but they’ve split their only two meetings in 2021—Kontaveit prevailed in the quarterfinals of Moscow a few weeks ago, 6-1, 6-1, while Muguruza got revenge in the round robin stage here a few days ago, 6-4, 6-4.
“I’m ready for a rematch,” Kontaveit said.
“I’m going to do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
Kontaveit, who's now won 29 of her last 32 matches, is into the biggest final of her career—her biggest before this was a WTA 1000 at Wuhan in 2018 (falling to Aryna Sabalenka). Her biggest titles are two WTA 500s this year (Ostrava and Moscow).