PALERMO, Italy - No.4 seed Anett Kontaveit booked her spot into the quarterfinals at the Palermo Ladies Open after an intriguing clash against Germany’s Laura Siegemund.
Kontaveit had to battle back as Siegemund powered her way to the first set, but the Estonian raised her level in the second and third sets to dodge the upset, winning 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 after two hours and 20 minutes.
“I’m quite happy about the way I was handling close situations, playing the close games and turning the close games around,” Kontaveit said, speaking to journalists via video chat.
“I thought I actually handled that sort of pressure, that I didn’t think I’d be used to, quite well.”
Kontaveit needed a few games to adjust to Siegemund's aggressive, all-court game. The German, a former champion on clay who won a title in Stuttgart in 2016, quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead after getting an early break. Siegemund dictated play in the opening games: despite dropping serve at 2-2, she broke straight back to retake the lead as Kontaveit struggled against the heavy pace of her forehand.
Siegemund saved two break points to extend her lead to 4-2, and broke the Kontaveit serve to close out the opening set, 6-3.
Kontaveit dialed up the aggression in her game to start the second set with a 3-0 lead, breaking Siegemund twice. The No.4 seed kept her nose in front as Siegemund continued to attack, saving a break point to reel off another three games in a row to close out the set 6-2. Kontaveit dominated in the final set, breaking twice and facing just one break point in return. She needed five match points in a marathon final game to finally dismiss Siegemund to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“Laura is a really tough opponent, and I really felt like I had to lift my game in the second set and play more aggressive,” Kontaveit said. “I try to take initiative right when I see it and maybe do it earlier in the point, try to move my feet quicker and get around the ball, try to hit it earlier and take time away from the opponent.
“I think that’s what made the difference after the first set.”
It’s the third quarterfinal of the season for Kontaveit, who had reached the last eight at the Australian Open and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships before the tour’s five-month break.
Wildcard Elisabetta Cocciaretto awaits Kontaveit in the next round. The 19-year-old Italian eliminated No.6 seed Donna Vekic to advance into her first WTA quarterfinal, becoming the youngest player from her country to reach that stage of a tournament since Sara Errani's Budapest run in 2006.
“It’s definitely going to be really tough, I saw her match against Donna last night,” Kontaveit said. “She was playing really well, very confident and very aggressive, and I think she did great. Donna is also a great player, so it was definitely a good win.
“I mean, I haven’t played against her before, I’ve just seen her play. One thing is seeing someone play but another thing is actually playing against them. We’ll see what happens, but I’m ready for the challenge.”