Kontaveit Wins Inaugural Tennis In The Land

Anett Kontaveit (photo: Brigitte Urban)

WASHINGTON, August 29, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia and unseeded challenger Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania staged their first meeting in a WTA singles final, where they faced off for the title of the inaugural Tennis in the Land at Jacobs Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a memorable one, part of the US Open Series, in which both gave their best effort on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon.

However, it was Kontaveit who outpointed Begu 85-74 and won her second career WTA title – and first since 2017 at ‘s-Hertogenbosch – with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory in an hour and 55 minutes. The victory snapped a five-match losing streak in WTA finals for the 25-year-old Tallinn native.

“The crowd has been amazing and thank you for your support,” said Kontaveit during the trophy ceremony, in acknowledging the supportive crowd that attended the final. “It’s been an incredible week in Cleveland. I feel like I have been at home.”

While they each notched straight-set victories in Friday’s semifinals to reach the title final, the 30th-ranked Kontaveit has enjoyed one of her best weeks on tour in recent memory.

Kontaveit arrived in the final after defeating Lauren Davis of the United States, Caroline Garcia of France, Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, losing just two sets all tournament. The Cleveland title match represented her third final of the season following the Grampians Cup in Melbourne last February, in which the title match against Ann Li was cancelled, and at Eastbourne in June, where she lost to Jelena Ostapenko.

Meanwhile, the 74th-ranked Begu began the week with an upset of No. 3 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia, continued with a solid win over Polona Hercog of Slovenia, then beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus and No. 6 seed Magda Linette of Poland, all without dropping a set, to reach her first final in four years. However, that changed for the Romanian in the opening set of the final.

That’s because Kontaveit pulled out the 66-minute first-set tie break 7-5 that lifted her through the balance of the title match. Then, she broke Begu to go ahead 2-1 in the second set and never looked back. The Estonian did not face any break points on her serve after the ninth game of the opening set and won the final four points of the match, earning the title on her first match-point opportunity.

Kontaveit finished with 25 winners to 15 unforced errors and converted both of her break-point opportunities against Begu. Meanwhile, the Romanian hit 27 winners, committed 25 unforced errors and broke Kontaveit’s serve just once in five tries.

Now, as both finalists head to New York for the US Open, Kontaveit will be the 28th seed and face 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia in the first round, while Begu, who celebrated her 31st birthday this week in Cleveland, will oppose recent Cluj-Napoca champion Andrea Petkovic of Germany.

Svitolina beats Cornet to win Chicago Women’s Open

Top seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine won the inaugural WTA 250 hard court Chicago Women’s Open at XS Tennis Village in Chicago Saturday afternoon. The World No. 6 defeated No. 68 Alizé Cornet of France, 7-5, 6-4, never trailing during the two-hour and two-minute title match.

En route to winning her 16th career WTA title and 11th on a hard court, Svitolina jumped ahead 3-0 in each set and converted six of six break-point opportunities against Cornet. Although Svitolina rolled up 41 unforced errors, she hit 25 winners and took advantage of Cornet’s 32 unforced errors. Svitolina outpointed her opponent 79-67.


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Svitolina, who was given a wild card into the final tune-up for the US Open, garnered her first title of the season and it was her first since winning at Strasbourg on clay last September. Svitolina, who won the Olympic bronze medal last month, was one of three Ukrainians in the main draw. As the draw played itself out over the course of the week, Svitolina beat four different French players – Clara Burrel, Fiona Ferro, Kristina Mladenovic and Cornet. The only non-French opponent she faced was Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the semifinal round.

“It was definitely a really hard week I think for everyone,” Svitolina said during the trophy ceremony. “Everyone was struggling and fighting. It was tough. In the end I’m very happy I could win this trophy.”

In a city that includes more than 45,000 residents who identify as Ukrainian-Americans, Svitolina embraced the chance to visit the 15,000-strong Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago earlier in the week and sample the ethnic cuisine and culture.

Thank you to the Ukrainian fans and all the fans who supported me,” Svitolina said. “I was really surprised by how much support I received.”


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Next, Svitolina will be seeded fifth at the US Open and will open against Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino. Meanwhile, Cornet will face No. 20 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

Andy Murray – A voice of reason on players vaccinating

During his pre-US Open press conference Saturday, Andy Murray addressed the subject of players being slow to vaccinate. He was asked if he though it’s a sustainable position whereby some players on tour are vaccinated and others aren’t, and you have a situation in a stadium where you don’t really know which players are vaccinated. He said:

“Over the next few months things are going to probably end up changing quite a bit. I know the conversations with regards to the Australian Open and stuff are already happening. The players that have been vaccinated are going to potentially be able to – well, they’re going to be having very different conditions to players who are not vaccinated.

“I can see it’s going to become an issue of the coming months. If tournaments are going to go ahead and be held like the Aussie Open, a lot the tour is not vaccinated, but for them to go ahead and host it, they’re going to be, yeah, allowin the players that have had the vaccination to train and move freely between the hotel and stuff, potentially not having to quarantine and things like that.

“There’s going to have to be a lot of pretty long, hard conversations with the tour and all of the players involved to try and come to a solution.

“Yeah, like even here in New York, you’ve got the situation with gyms and stuff, need to be vaccinated. Eating in restaurants and things, obviously have to be vaccinated.

“I feel like I’m enjoying kind of a fairly normal life, whereas for the players that haven’t, it’s different. I’m sure they’ll be frustrated with that.

“Ultimately, I guess the reason why all of us are getting vaccinated is to look out for the wider public. We have a responsibility as players that are traveling across the world, yeah, to look out for everyone else as well.

“I’m happy that I’m vaccinated. I’m hoping that more players chose to have it in the coming months.”

The reason behind the US Open tightening protocols

Happy 24th Birthday, Reilly Opelka

Gen X meet Gen Z – Ivo Karlovic and Carlos Alcaraz

Jamie Loeb – The thrill of returning to the main draw

US Open Monday’s order of play

What they’re writing

• In “Big Three rivalries have long fueled men’s tennis,” Washington Post tennis sports features writer Liz Clarke exams the current Federer-Nadal-Djokovic rivalry and previews the US Open.

• In the New York Times, Cindy Schmerler writes on John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg: A Rivalry That Ended Too Soon.”

“Quotable …”

More highlights from US Open Media Day

“I got goosebumps when I walked onto Armstrong the first day. It just brought me back to 2019.”

Bianca Andreescu of Canada, 2019 US Open women’s singles champion, who will play Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in the first round Tuesday evening on Arthur Ashe Stadium in her first match at the US Open since winning the 2019 title.

“Winning the gold medal is something that you don’t even dream about as a tennis player because it’s just so surreal.”

Alexander Zverev of Germany, who won the men’s singles gold medal at this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games. He will open against American Sam Querrey Tuesday afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“The biggest memory that comes back to me is being a little kid, running around the entire site. I don’t know if that may be the reason why I play so well here, but there’s definitely a lot of nostalgia.”

Naomi Osaka of Japan, women’s defending champion, on returning to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“I know how big of an opportunity is in front of me here in New York where, historically, I’ve played really well over the years. It’s probably the most entertaining tennis court that we have. The crowd will be back on stadium. I can’t wait. Honestly, I’m very motivated to play my best tennis. But I have to hit one ball at a time, as they say, try to be in the moment, have a guiding star in a way, a dream to win a Slam here.”

Novak Djokovic of Serbia, men’s top seed, who is attempting to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam.

What they’re sharing on social media