Anett Kontaveit of Estonia claimed her 13th win over a Top 10 opponent when she breezed past No.3 seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada, 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the Viking International quarterfinals.
"I thought I played a really good match today," Kontaveit said in her post-match press conference. "I was consistent throughout the whole match and felt like I really kept my level up and played some good tennis."
Kontaveit’s sole WTA singles title came on grass, at 2017 ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and she is now one step closer to possibly returning to the winner’s circle on that surface after her 66-minute victory over World No.7 Andreescu.
The 27th-ranked Kontaveit out-winnered the 2019 US Open champion by 16 to nine on the day, and she won three-quarters of Andreescu’s second-service points. Both stats helped the Estonian convert six of her eight break points en route to the straight-sets victory.
"I think I have always had an aggressive style of playing, so I remember playing the first time in the juniors on grass, and I really liked it," Kontaveit said. "I think I got to the semis of junior Wimbledon. I was really enjoying myself. I also won my one and only WTA title on grass in 's-Hertogenbosch. I have always really liked playing on it. I think it suits my game."
It was unclear which way the first set would go for a long while, as five of the first seven games went against service. But a thunderous love hold by Kontaveit, punctuated with a backhand winner, put her up 5-3, and the unseeded player took command from there, breaking Andreescu for a fourth time to take the opening frame.
Kontaveit took the first big lead in the second set as well, slamming stellar returns to break Andreescu at love for 3-1. Three games later, a double fault by Kontaveit on break point allowed Andreescu to pull back on serve at 4-3, but the Estonian was unfazed as she swept to triple break point in the next game, eventually moving ahead 5-3.
Kontaveit had no issues closing out the match on her serve in the next game, converting her first match point after a netted return by Andreescu.
"I just tried to stay with it," Kontaveit said. "Especially in the second set, I was up 6-3, 4-1, but it means nothing. [Andreescu] never gives up. I have seen so many matches where she's come back from scores like that. I really had to keep playing and be ready for it."
Kontaveit now finds herself into her fourth quarterfinal of the season, where she will meet Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic.
🇷🇺 @DKasatkina with a big comeback win in Eastbourne!— wta (@WTA) June 23, 2021
The Russian bounces back from a set down to defeat No.4 seed Swiatek 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
Up next: a #VikingInternational quarterfinal against wildcard Jelena Ostapenko. pic.twitter.com/MMsrebfMgY
Daria Kasatkina also pulled off an upset Wednesday as the Russian defeated No.4 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, to reach the Eastbourne quarterfinals.
Fresh off a run to her first grass-court final mere days ago in Birmingham, World No.34 Kasatkina continued her success on the surface, clinching her 13th win over a Top 10 opponent after upsetting ninth-ranked Swiatek.
Kasatkina had two more winners than Swiatek, while the Polish player came unglued with 37 unforced errors, 15 more than Kasatkina had in the meeting. After a close opener, Kasatkina took charge in the final two sets, winning 11 of 14 points off of the Swiatek second serve during that timeframe.
"I just found the way, how to move, how to play," Kasatkina told the press about her comeback win. "I changed a little bit the way I was playing, that was the key also. I was holding my serve well in the second and third set."
Swiatek was the more effectively aggressive player in the first set, though, with 11 winners to just four by Kasatkina, which propelled last year's Roland Garros champion to a one-set lead.
However, it was Kasatkina who flipped the script in the bagel second set, winning over two-thirds of the points during that stanza to level the match.
Kasatkina started to dominate proceedings in the decider with a variety of winners and forced errors from her forehand side. Swiatek, who fought back from 1-4 down in the third set against Heather Watson on Tuesday, was unable to execute a similar comeback this time around.
More big forehands by Kasatkina led to a putaway winner at 5-1, setting up double match point, and the Russian took the victory on her first opportunity, after a Swiatek forehand flew wide.
"When you are winning the matches like this, the confidence grows," Kasatkina said. "Also, every day is a different day, different match. Every day you spend on grass is good, because you get more and more confidence, you feel better, you understand more."
No.1 seed Aryna Sabalenka was untroubled, as she stormed past Alison Riske, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round.
Belarus’s Sabalenka, who came from a set down to beat Riske in the finals of both Shenzhen and Wuhan in 2019, improved to 4-0 against the American as she blasted her way to victory after just 67 minutes of play.
World No.4 Sabalenka hit 34 winners in the match, compared to just seven from the racquet of 31st-ranked Riske. The top seed faced and erased just two break points during the clash.
Sabalenka, the 2018 Eastbourne runner-up, will face another power hitter in the quarterfinals, as she will meet Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi in the elite eight.
“I think the referrees will have to bring more balls because I don’t know what is going to happen to the balls in that match. I just think it’s going to be ‘bam bam’.”— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) June 23, 2021
Aryna Sabalenka, previewing her QF vs. Camila Giorgi. Very good win over Riske. #VikingInternational pic.twitter.com/kgVAnxWhkL
Sabalenka's dominance began in the first set, where Sabalenka won the final five games, breaking Riske twice during that run and never facing a break point. Sabalenka had 14 winners to just four unforced errors in the opening stanza, as she overpowered the 2019 Wimbledon quarterfinalist.
A more competitive second set took place, but Sabalenka never truly lost control, as she took an early break at 3-2 by punching a forehand crosscourt winner on the sideline. Sabalenka finally faced two break points in the next game, but she fended off the pair with well-timed big serves as she moved ahead 4-2.
As the close second set progressed, Riske showed off the stellar serves and deft volleys, which has brought her success on grass, including a title at 2019 's-Hertogenbosch. The American, though, was unable to break Sabalenka’s sterling delivery, and the top seed eventually closed out the match with her 10th ace.