GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- If Anett Kontaveit isn't holding her head up high after her resounding finish to the season it's only because she's exhausted. The 25-year-old finished her season by winning 29 of her past 34 matches, collecting four titles over a 10-week span, and will land at a career-high No.7 to end a breakout season for herself and Estonian tennis.
"A tough match today, but definitely a really positive season," Kontaveit said after her 6-3, 7-5 loss to Garbiñe Muguruza in the final, "I was just so happy to qualify here and to make it to the finals. It feels incredible. Very proud of what I've achieved in the second half of the season."
The key to Kontaveit's success over the past three months has been to simply not overthink it. When asked about her physical prowess toward the end of the season, she Kontaveit could only laugh. There was no need for the gym given her non-stop play across continents over the past few months. She confessed she was dreaming about putting the racquet down and resting. But instead of packing it in, she just kept winning.
Through it all, Kontaveit kept getting the same question: How in the world are you doing this?
The answer was simply this: She simply, finally, believed she could.
"I think the self-belief is a big thing," Kontaveit said. "I think you can achieve as much as you believe you can. I think that's definitely what has really grown for me."
Kontaveit's new self-belief is based in fact. She finished the season leading the tour in hardcourt wins, tied for most match wins, and went an undefeated 7-0 in tour semifinals. Over her two-and-a-half-month surge starting in Cleveland, she went 5-3 vs. the tour's Top 10, including three Top 5 wins. Coming into the season with one career title, her four-title run put her second behind No.1 Ashleigh Barty in 2021 trophies.
"I think it definitely has given me so much confidence, so much self-belief," Kontaveit said. "Looking forward to just taking some time to reflect, just think of what has happened in the last few months because I've been playing matches non-stop so there hasn't really been any time for that. Really looking forward to doing that.
"I think I'm excited for the next season. Really want to keep this momentum up, just keep improving on my game, have a very good pre-season with Dmitry, just keep working. I think we're doing the right things. My game is definitely improving in the right direction. I'm very excited for what's to come."
As Kontaveit looks to 2022, she has much to be optimistic about. The Australian Open is her most successful Slam, having made the quarterfinals in 2020. With the bulk of her points coming from the back half of the season, she'll enjoy a high seeding through much of 2022, which sets her up for even more success.
But first, a much-deserved rest.
"I don't even know when the tournaments in Australia are starting yet," Kontaveit said with a laugh. "I really have to first look into that, then start taking it back week by week and just plan the pre-season.
"I think it's very important to just keep trying to improve my game. If you're doing the right things, the wins will come, the confidence will come. Believe in yourself, trust what you're doing, trust your coach.
"I think it's important to have a good pre-season. I definitely don't want to cut it short. Just really want to train hard and get in great shape for the next year for the big challenges that are ahead."