Anett Kontaveit’s tremendous season-ending form has grabbed her more career-best spoils after winning the inaugural Transylvania Open on Sunday.
The No.2 seed from Estonia defeated No.1 seed and home favorite Simona Halep of Romania, 6-2, 6-3, to claim the singles title after a brisk 1 hour and 10 minutes of play. Kontaveit did not drop a set in the tournament.
By claiming her fourth title of the season (which have all come in the last 10 weeks), Kontaveit clinches the last remaining spot in the Akron WTA Finals in Guadalajara, becoming the first player representing Estonia to make the year-ending championships. She is also projected to make her Top 10 debut in Monday’s singles rankings.
Fast facts: Kontaveit has been dominant at the end of this year. She has now won a whopping 26 of her last 28 matches, including her last 10 in a row, which encompasses back-to-back titles in Moscow and Cluj-Napoca.
Entering this summer's hardcourt season, Kontaveit had gone 1-6 in WTA singles finals, with her lone title having come in ‘s-Hertogenbosch back in 2017. But the Estonian at last returned to the winner’s circle in Cleveland the week before the US Open, and that triumph kickstarted her commanding stretch.
Kontaveit followed up with titles in Ostrava and, just last week, Moscow. Her six finals this year is tied for the most on tour with World No.1 Ashleigh Barty.
Stat corner: Given their history, Kontaveit had a challenge to grasp another match-win, as former World No.1 Halep had won all three of their previous meetings.
But Kontaveit was unbothered by the lopsided rivalry despite having so much on the line. The Estonian slammed 21 winners to Halep's nine, and won a staggering 55 percent of points returning the Halep first serve, leading to five service breaks.
Notable quotes: "I’m still unsure of what’s going on!" an excited Kontaveit said in her press conference. "Of course, I’m incredibly happy that I managed to play really well today and win the final. That was the main focus and I’m really, really proud of myself that I managed to do that."
"I believe in myself a little bit more than I did a couple years ago, and I was trying to be aggressive but also stay consistent, and not go for too much," Kontaveit said, regarding her first win over Halep. "I think she is such a good player, and I really tried to just focus on myself and not think about the three times that I had lost to her. I just took it as a new challenge."
"She deserved definitely to win the match," two-time Grand Slam champion Halep said in her post-match press. "I just tried to make it longer a little bit, but I couldn’t. But many positives this week: to play a final after a tough year, it’s always welcome. Even if it’s the smaller trophy, it’s a trophy, so I feel happy, I feel pleased with the way I played this week."
On August 17th, Anett Kontaveit was on a 5-match losing streak after losing to Ons Jabeur in 1R Cincinnati.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 31, 2021
Since August 17th: Went 26-2, 4 titles, and will surge from No.30 to No.8 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals.
On Monday, the Estonian will make her Top 10 debut. pic.twitter.com/ItzmYiJgw1
Key moments: After saving a break point and holding for 2-1, Kontaveit took charge, relying mainly on her powerful forehand to collect the next three games and lead 5-1. Halep grabbed one break back, but it was not enough, as Kontaveit broke again to wrap up the set.
Halep led 2-0 in the second set, but that was short-lived as Kontaveit slammed another forehand winner on the baseline to break for 2-2. The Estonian continued to hit her targets precisely, earning another break for 4-2 with a backhand return winner squarely finding the line.
A gritty Halep put all her effort into prolonging the match, fending off three championship points before holding for 5-3 with an ace. However, in the next game, Kontaveit fired two consecutive forehand winners to garner three more championship points. A blistering unreturnable serve closed out the win on her first chance.
Bara, Gorgodze claim doubles title
Romania did get a titlist on Sunday as homeland hope Irina Bara teamed with Ekaterine Gorgodze of Georgia to earn the inaugural Transylvania Open doubles championship.
Unseeded Bara and Gorgodze edged No.2 seeds Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia and Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove of the Netherlands, 4-6, 6-1, [11-9] in an 80-minute upset to capture the crown.
It was a milestone moment for both Bara and Gorgodze, as they each won their first WTA title in either singles or doubles. Bara, in fact, was contesting her first WTA final of any kind.
Gorgodze had finished as a WTA doubles runner-up once before, alongside Arantxa Rus in Palermo in 2019. Gorgodze and Rus fell in that final to Cornelia Lister and Renata Voracova.