Anett Kontaveit of Estonia pulled off an upset of No.3 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in the J&T Banka Ostrava Open quarterfinals on Friday, setting up a semifinal showdown with crowd favorite Petra Kvitova.
World No.30 Kontaveit dispatched Olympic champion Bencic, 6-4, 6-3 in just 74 minutes to book her semifinal spot. Kontaveit is now 2-0 against Bencic, having also defeated the Swiss in the third round of last year's Australian Open.
Stat corner: The victory over 11th-ranked Bencic is Kontaveit's fourth over a Top 20 player this season. Kontaveit, who won her second career WTA singles title at Cleveland just prior to the US Open, is a win away from reaching her fourth singles final of 2021.
On Friday, Kontaveit played the more aggressive and cleaner match, with 29 winners to just 19 unforced errors. Bencic, on the other hand, had 12 winners to 18 unforced errors. Kontaveit won over half the points returning Bencic's service, which allowed her to convert five of her eight break points.
Key moments: Kontaveit powered her way to a 5-1 lead in the opening stanza and had a set point in that game. But Bencic pulled off a stirring comeback, firing a winner to save that set point, and saving another set point at 5-3 as well.
Bencic eventually clawed both breaks back to get back on serve at 5-4. However, Kontaveit attacked again in the following game, using outrageous returns to reach triple set point, and converting the first of that trio.
After an early exchange of breaks in the second set, Kontaveit took charge for good by slamming a backhand winner down the line to break for 4-2. A love hold for 5-2 moved her one step closer, and Kontaveit wrapped up the match two games later with a crosscourt backhand winner.
Earlier, No.2 seed Kvitova of the Czech Republic ousted rising Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the semifinals on home soil.
"My family is here, because it’s like home home," Kvitova told the press, after her win. "I was born 20 minutes by car from here. It’s a different tournament, I spent every afternoon before the tournament started with my family. It’s just different lying in your own bed. My mom took care of me, made a coffee, and good snacks as well!"
World No.42 Teichmann has already upset Top 20 opponents six times this year as she climbs the rankings. The first of those wins came over fellow lefty Kvitova in Dubai via retirement, which was the only prior meeting between the two.
However, World No.10 Kvitova was able to get a measure of revenge in front of excited compatriot crowds on Friday, as she swept to victory in an hour and 36 minutes. Kvitova, who won her 28th career WTA singles title earlier this season in Doha, is into her third semifinal of the year.
Kvitova's 24 winners in the match were more than double Teichmann's 11, and the Czech came through in the clutch when her back was against the wall, saving seven of the eight break points she faced on the day.
"Even from the baseline, we played great rallies," said Kvitova. "I have to be patient sometimes with her slices, and so I couldn’t make winners straight away, so I think it was kind of a different match today. She was playing with a kind of topspin from the forehand, it was just different tactics. I had to pull it out, it took me a little bit to get used to her game."
After fending off four of those break points at 2-1, Kvitova eased through the rest of the opening set until her first chances on the Teichmann serve came at 4-4. There, the home favorite attacked with powerful play, and clinched the break after a Teichmann forehand flew long. Serving for the set at 5-4, Kvitova used her trusty forehand to steer to triple set point, then attained the one-set lead by forcing an error from that wing.
More strong forehands gave Kvitova the early 2-0 lead in the second set, but Teichmann was not done yet, collecting her only break of the day to immediately get back on serve. But Kvitova proved her mastery from both sides at 2-2, when she used a series of angled backhands to earn another service break.
The Czech saved multiple break points to get out of danger and consolidate for 4-2, then eased to 5-4, where she served for the match. A backhand winner gave Kvitova triple set point, and though she missed the first with a double fault, she converted the second with a final unreturnable serve.