NOTTINGHAM, Great Britain – 20-year-old Anett Kontaveit clinched one of the biggest wins of her young career, recovering from a set down to defeat No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5, to reach her second WTA quarterfinal of 2016.
“She’s a really tough player, and I’m so happy to be through,” she said after the match. “I managed to play my game, and do that every point.”
Wozniacki was playing just her second match since skipping the clay court season due to a right ankle injury, but appeared on course for a decisive, if tense, victory over Kontaveit, edging out a tie-break and trading 12 straight service holds deep into the second set.
“It was tough losing the first set, but I guess that’s how tennis goes. Sometimes you win those close points, sometimes you lose them. But you just have to keep fighting. The tactic was to try to put her under pressure, be aggressive. That’s how I play.”
But the World No.97, who made her major breakthrough last summer by reaching the fourth round of the US Open, came out on the winning end of a trio of service breaks, leveling the match to force a decider.
“The match was up and down, but she played well, so hats off to her,” Wozniacki said. “At the end of the day, I’m just happy that I’m able to play again. One step in the right direction, and from here I’ll just move forward, know what I can work on and hopefully get better. The main thing is that my ankle is holding up, so I’m pleased with that.
“Before I came here, I was a little worried; I didn’t know if it would hold up or not. But after my first match it felt good, and this morning I felt surprisingly well, compared to how I thought I was going to feel. So today, I just played, and didn’t have to think about it.
“I’m disappointed to have lost today, especially when you’re so close. But it is what it is, and all in all, I got a couple of matches, and hopefully it’s onwards and upwards from here.”
Kontaveit raced out to a 4-1, double-break lead in the final set before the Dane showed the sort of mettle that helped her reach the No.1 ranking, pushing the Estonian youngster back to win four straight games to get within four points of victory.
“I was a little nervous, but then I loosened up, and swung more freely once I was down 5-4,” Kontaveit said. “4-1 is still far away from victory, but I could definitely feel the pressure. She played a couple of good games and was returning well. It was a little unlucky, but I managed to stay loose.”
With one last momentum swing, Kontaveit held her nerve and served out the upset victory in two hours and 12 minutes.
Up next for the Estonian is American Alison Riske, who dispatched Hsieh Su-Wei, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday.
“She’s had good wins, and likes playing on grass, and it’s going to be a tough match-up, but I’m going to try to do my best, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Earlier in the day, top seed Karolina Pliskova got revenge on Anna Tatishvili, who beat her in the first round of the US Open, with a 6-1, 6-3 win in under an hour. Tatishvili defeated Pliskova’s doubles partner and twin sister Kristyna on Monday; the former World No.7 cited their doubles win on Monday with helping her better transition onto grass courts.
“I just came from clay, so every match is important,” she said after the match. “It’s better than practicing, so I just enjoyed playing with her. It’s something different. With Kristyna, we didn’t play for a long time. In the end I think it helped me because my serves and returns were better today.”
Better would be an understatement from Pliskova, who maintained an 83% first serve percentage in the first set, missing just three first serves and winning 14 of 15 points when getting the first serve in to set up a quarterfinal match with either Andrea Hlavackova or Ashleigh Barty, a former junior standout in the midst of a full-scale comeback after an extended hiatus.
“I think she was frustrated by my serve in the first set and half of the second set. I didn’t hit that many aces in the second set, and that was probably the biggest difference between the two sets. But I got nearly every first serve in in the first set, and that’s so important on grass.”
Monica Puig put down an emphatic 6-3, 6-0 win over Michelle Larcher de Brito, who has enjoyed some of her best results on grass courts.
“I’m just feeling really solid in every part of my game,” Puig said in her post-match press conference. I’m just trying to continue this good form, and play as smart as I can.
“I’ve made the fourth round at Wimbledon once, so I know what it’s like to play well on grass, and how good I have to feel out there. It’s about transitioning from a slow game to a much faster one. I’m happy with how I’ve started so far.
“She obviously likes to get the first strike of the ball, so getting a good amount of decent first serves in was very nice. She had some incredible shots that I had to chase down, but I was able to turn defense into offense quite a few times, and that was very nice.”