STUTTGART, Germany - No.8 seed Anett Kontaveit got her Porsche Tennis Grand Prix campaign off to a solid start, needing two sets to see off Caroline Garcia, 6-4, 6-3, and move into the second round.
The red clay of Stuttgart has always been a rewarding stage for the Estonian player: it was here in 2017 that then-qualifier Kontaveit claimed her career-first Top 10 victory over Garbine Muguruza, and last year she reached her first Premier-level semifinal at this event.
She carried all of that positive energy into her first-round clash against Garcia, who spent a grueling weekend competing for France in Fed Cup. Garcia helped carry her country into the final: she defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu in two sets, fell to Simona Halep in three and then partnered with Kristina Mladenovic to claim the decisive doubles rubber.
But against Kontaveit in Stuttgart, Garcia will likely rue her missed opportunities, having created six break chances across both sets but unable to convert on any as the Estonian raised her level when it counted.
The Frenchwoman got off to a strong start, applying the pressure and creating four chances to break in Kontaveit’s first three service games. But Kontaveit served a timely ace to bat off a break point at 1-1, and at 2-2 and 3-3 she painted the lines with her heavy forehand to keep herself on par with Garcia.
After playing patient tennis for most of the set, finally it was Kontaveit who capitalized on her opportunity, converting her first break chance at 4-3 and quickly consolidating to love to extend her lead to 5-3. With the pressure firmly on Garcia’s shoulders, the Frenchwoman recalled some of her Fed Cup heroics to save four set points and hold serve - but Kontaveit calmly took the set a game later, converting her fifth break chance.
A similar pattern unfolded in the second set: Garcia got off to a strong start with early break chances coming her way - she created two break point opportunities at 1-1 - but Kontaveit’s strong serving bailed her out of trouble.
Kontaveit’s ace count grew to six in the second set, hitting 69% of first serves in, and as a result Garcia found herself struggling to find inroads in her opponent’s service games. Kontaveit reeled off the last four games in a row to claim the match after an hour and 18 minutes.
Up next for No.6 seed Kontaveit, she’ll face another tough unseeded opponent as she awaits the winner between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Germany’s own Julia Goerges.
More to follow...