After a week off following the Australian Open, the WTA Tour is back in full swing and the tournament in St Petersburg will be capped off with what should be a thriller between Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit. Neither woman will have been happy with their run in Melbourne so will be happy to return to form to solidify their spots in the top 10.
Sakkari has developed a reputation as a tough out for many of the best players but has struggled to take that next step to truly be considered as an elite player worthy of competing for slams. She dropped her first set of the week in the semi finals, coming through a scrappy match with Irina Begu 6-4 6-7 6-4 in three hours. “I had to come up with some very tough shots and very physical tennis, but I’m very glad I did it, and I’m super excited to be in the final here.” she said.
Kontaveit’s extraordinary end to the season saw her move from the top 30 to top 8 in the space of two months last year. A disappointing Australian Open has not knocked the No.2 seed’s confidence if this week is anything to go by, picking up a bunch of impressive wins to make the final. She saw off a quick start from Jelena Ostapenko to beat the Latvian 6-4 6-3 with a very controlled display, hitting 29 winners to just 16 unforced errors. “She’s a very aggressive player, so I had to be really ready for her big shots, and just be as consistent and take my chances when I could. I felt like I did that really well today. I was very positive and had good energy and worked really hard today.” Kontaveit said afterwards.
Kontaveit’s record indoors now stands at 19 straight wins, a number last reached (and bettered) by Justine Henin. The Estonian looks a much more assured player on court and has delivered in the big matches more often in recent times. Sakkari is very capable of taking advantage should her opponent start spraying errors but the head to head in recent times has not been in her favour against an improving opponent. They are currently in 6-6 tie but Kontaveit went 3-2 last year, including 3-1 on hard courts.
Prediction – Anett Kontaveit in straight sets