Interview with the Champion: Anett Kontaveit, at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow

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In her fifth final of the year, and the third in her last six tournaments, Anett Kontaveit showed exactly why she's become a late-round fixture during this remarkable season.

First: her ability to overcome deficits.

The 25-year-old Estonian didn't have to rally from behind at any point during this week's Kremlin Cup before Sunday—because she was so good during rallies in her matches—but she dropped the first set to Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-4. Then, she fell behind 4-0 in the second.

Nevertheless, Kontaveit would go 10 for 11 in sets in Moscow, which included straight-set wins over Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals and Marketa Vondrousova in the semis. Kontaveit's drastic turnaround recalled her stunning 1-6, 6-0, 6-0 win over Lauren Davis in late August at the Cleveland Championships—but this was much more a pressure-filled contest, and to her immense credit, she regained control against Alexandrova.

Second: her ability to play her best when things are close. Alexandrova shook off her mid-match collapse and would serve for the title at 5-4 in the third set. The 26-year-old Russian would reach deuce, just two points from victory. But she would never get closer, and Kontaveit earned the must-break game, before pulling away with the last two games for the victory.

Alexandrova would know this better than most, having failed to convert either of two match points she held against Kontaveit in their only other meeting, last year in Ostrava—a match in which she had three opportunities to serve out the match.

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Anett Kontaveit is a player no one should want to face right now.

Anett Kontaveit is a player no one should want to face right now.

According to the WTA, Kontaveit can reach the WTA Finals by either winning next week's tournament in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, or reaching the final and hoping that Ons Jabeur doesn't reach the semifinals of her tournament in Courmayeur, Italy. The tour's season-ending championships begin on November 10 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

In the WTA rankings, Kontaveit is currently No. 20; she'll rise on Monday and is projected to match her career-high position of No. 14, which she reached in April 2019.