ROME, Italy -- Anett Kontaveit of Estonia continued her fine run of form during the clay-court season, picking up a second consecutive Top 10 win with a dominant 6-3, 6-1 upset of World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Friday.
"I knew [Wozniacki's] a fighter, I knew it wasn’t over until we shook hands, and I was taking it really point by point," Kontaveit told the media, after the match. "I wasn’t going on court with really any expectations."
It was another excellent win for the Estonian, following her third-round victory over No.8 seed Venus Williams on Thursday, and she is into her second semifinal of the clay-court swing, after a final four showing at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart last month. Kontaveit now has five wins over Top 10 players so far this year.
"I really enjoy winning!" Kontaveit exclaimed with a laugh. "The last couple of weeks have been really good for me, and I have turned it around for myself a little bit, and I’ve been playing some good tennis. I’m getting some great victories, and I’m really, really happy with the way I’m playing right now."
The World No.26 had 23 winners in the contest -- more than doubling Wozniacki's nine -- and only 14 unforced errors. Kontaveit broke the second seed six times in the match en route to a decisive 74-minute victory.
"I was trying to get [Wozniacki] out of the court a little more," explained Kontaveit. "She’s obviously very fast. I think my main goal was to be patient and still stay aggressive at the same time."
The encounter opened with four straight breaks of serve, as both players were pressing with aggressive service returns, and being rewarded for them. Wozniacki finally held for 3-2, staving off a break point in the process, but Kontaveit countered with a hold of her own to get to 3-3.
Kontaveit then picked up another break of the Wozniacki serve to lead 4-3, after the World No.2 pushed a backhand into the net on the second break point of the game. Unlike the two previous instances where she had a break advantage, the Estonian consolidated her lead with a hold of service for 5-3.
By this stage, Kontaveit was beginning to use her aggressive backhand to close out the rallies, and two consecutive powerful shots off that wing brought her to triple set point on the Dane’s serve. Kontaveit dropped the first two with backhand errors, but a forehand winner on the third put her one set away from the upset.
Wozniacki struggled through her opening service game of the second set as well, fending off two break points with sharp backhands en route to a tricky hold for 1-1. The Dane was less successful in her next service game, quickly falling behind triple break point as the Kontaveit forehand clicked into high gear, then dropping serve with a backhand error.
By this point, the Kontaveit power game had reached its peak, and Wozniacki was finding it difficult to gain footholds in any of the Estonian’s service games. Kontaveit quickly held for 4-1, immediately putting the pressure on Wozniacki’s serve. The Dane faltered once more, hitting a backhand error to face another break point, which Kontaveit converted with a backhand winner.
Serving for the match, Kontaveit raced to double match point behind an array of winners -- including a rare drop shot -- and closed out the match with an ace to enter her second semifinal on red clay in 2018.
Kontaveit sets up a semifinal battle with defending champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. 4th-seeded Svitolina dispatched No.11 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany earlier in the day, 6-4, 6-4, to win her eighth straight match in Rome. It will be the first meeting between Kontaveit and Svitolina.
"I think I’m going to go into this [semifinal] the same as today: I’m not expecting anything," said Kontaveit. "I just get to play another match before the French Open, which is a huge bonus for me. I have nothing to lose -- I didn’t win this tournament last year, and I’m not defending any more points, so I’m just really going to enjoy it out there."