By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, November 12, 2021
Playing in the high altitude of Guadalajara, Anett Kontaveit continues to ascend rare air.
The eighth-seeded Kontaveit charged through eight straight games crushing Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-0 at the WTA Finals.
It was Kontaveit’s 12th straight win and her 28th victory in her last 30 matches.
The last woman to qualify for Guadalajara is the first to secure a semifinal spot in the prestigious season-ending event.
So what’s the story behind the surge?
Kontaveit’s cites three keys to her career-best surge: coach Dmitry Tursunov has helped clear the clutter and bring clarity to her game, she’s simplified strategy and is trusting her instincts and shots—vital playing amid the high altitude of Guadalajara where errors can pile sky high.
The 25-year-old Kontaveit says coach Tursunov hasn’t made any technical changes to her strokes. Instead Tursunov, who previously coached Aryna Sabalenka, has encouraged her to swing big at larger targets.
The result is Kontaveit is playing high-percentage high-powered combinations. Today, Kontaveit spread the court beautifully at times stretching Pliskova on her weaker backhand wing and finishing into the open court.
A confident Kontaveit says it’s a matter of trust: Going for the first-strike with full belief she’ll make it.
“I haven’t changed anything technical, from what I know of,” Kontaveit said. “I think it’s just really trusting my shots a little bit more, just going for it, but going for it with margins. I think that’s been very important, not to go for too much, but still stay aggressive and be in charge whenever possible. When it’s not possible, just stay in the rallies, be as consistent as possible.”
Wimbledon finalist Pliskova, who suffered her first loss in four meetings vs. Kontaveit, said the Estonian has “a big chance” to take the title if she can continue to sustain this lofty level.
“Of course, you can see she’s confident. I’m sure she’s lucky at some times, but of course she’s playing great tennis right now,” Pliskova said of Kontaveit. “Sometimes I think when you are on this kind of streak of winning matches, you don’t really thinking what to do, how to do, what happens if you play like this.
“I think she’s just really not thinking much, playing great tennis overall, for sure with a lot of confidence. But to me, it was not about like if she’s playing well or not. I was playing normal and she was just playing extremely well today, so that was the case.”
Photo credit: Getty