Anett Kontaveit in 2021: year of a new belief
Anett Kontaveit won four titles in the second half of 2021, broke into the world’s top 10 and qualified for the WTA Finals. Read all about her stellar year
Until 2021, Anett Kontaveit had been a player with huge potential and huge power but it all came together for the Estonian in the second half of the year as she won four titles, qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals and ended the year as the world No 7.
- Kontaveit’s Ranking at end of 2020 : 23
- Kontaveit’s Ranking at end of 2021: 7
- Kontaveit’s win-loss record in 2021: 48-17
- Kontaveit’s titles in 2021 : 4
KONTAVEIT’S BEST PERFORMANCE OF 2021: BEATING SIMONA HALEP TO WIN TRANSYLVANIA OPEN
Kontaveit went into the Transylvania Open with confidence, having won the title the previous week in Moscow and she carried the momentum all the way to the title, beating the No 1 seed Simona Halep in the final.
Beating Halep is never easy, but doing it on the Romanian’s home soil is another matter altogether. But right from the start, she produced outstanding hitting, the kind that her new coach Dmitry Tursunov would have been proud of himself, as she ran riot against the two-time Grand Slam champion to record a commanding 6-2, 6-3 victory.
It was also a landmark victory for Kontaveit, who entered the top 10 for the first time in her career as a result and it also qualified her for the WTA Finals for the first time, the pressure of that possibility not putting her out of her stride.
KONTAVEIT’S BEST GRAND-SLAM RESULT: REACHING THIRD ROUND AT US OPEN
Kontaveit’s Grand Slam performances didn’t stack up against the rest of her WTA Tour efforts in 2021, with three third-round showings and one first-round defeat, at Wimbledon.
But it’s all about progression for Kontaveit and having been well beaten by Iga Swiatek in the third round of the French Open, she enjoyed a couple of good wins at the US Open and then pushed Swiatek all the way in round three, the Pole eventually winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
It was a defeat, but a step forward for the Estonian, who then returned to the WTA Tour with great success soon after.
KONTAVEIT’S BEST MOMENTS OF 2021: PLAYING IN WTA FINALS, HIRING DMITRY TURSUNOV
At 25, it’s taken time for Kontaveit to put it all together. A fine junior, she always had the power but never managed to find the consistency that you need at the top level. That all changed in 2021 and her qualification for the WTA Finals was an enormous achievement.
What’s more, in Guadalajara she maintained her stunning form – despite obvious fatigue – as she beat the French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova and No 3 Karolina Pliskova in the group stages. She showed immense resolve to get past Maria Sakkari in the semis and only Garbine Muguruza, who had also beaten her in the group, proved too tough a nut to crack, the Spaniard winning 6-3, 7-5.
“I think (it was) a tough match today, but definitely a really positive season,” Kontaveit said. “I mean, 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.”
It was in Cincinnati in August that Kontaveit, who had previously been coached by Nigel Sears, turned to Russian Dmitry Tursunov as she looked to go in a different direction.
Tursunov won seven titles in his career and was best-ranked No 20 and the Russian’s forehand was one of the most thunderous shots on the ATP Tour. His coaching credentials included stints with Aslan Karatsev, Elena Vesnina and Aryna Sabalenka but in Cincinnati, their worlds collided.
“I was looking for a coach and I suppose he was looking for a job, so that’s how it happened,” Kontaveit said, with a smile. “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,” she added. “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.”
KONTAVEIT’S “WORST” MOMENT OF 2021: LOSING IN ROUND ONE AT WIMBLEDON
Though she has never been past the third round at Wimbledon, Kontaveit’s game should be adaptable to grass, with her fine serve and massive groundstrokes a danger on any surface.
But in 2021, she went out at the first-round stage, beaten 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 by Marketa Vondrousova, the Czech who reached the final at Roland-Garros in 2019, who had never won a match at the All England Club before.
It was a low moment and perhaps one that influenced her decision, a month or so later, to look to make a change of coach.
KONTAVEIT OFF-COURT: CHILLING WITH THE ANIMALS
When Kontaveit’s away from the court she likes to spend time with her dog, whatever the weather, as some of her recent Instagram posts attest to.
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Kontaveit’s self-assessment: “I want to keep up this momentum”
From someone with potential to a multiple title-winner, Kontaveit said she now believes she belongs at this level. “I think it definitely has given me so much confidence, so much self-belief,” she 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 we’re doing the right things. My game is definitely improving in the right direction. I’m very excited for what’s to come. I think the self-belief is a big thing. I think you can achieve as much as you believe you can. I think that’s definitely what has really grown for me. “
“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”Anett Kontaveit
Tennis Majors’ view: Time to improve in Grand Slams
Anett Kontaveit should go into 2022 with oodles of confidence after the best year of her career and with good reason to think that she can make the next step up. For Kontaveit, that means improving her record in the Grand Slam events, where she has just one quarter-final to her name.
She looks to have the game to succeed at the top level, power mixed with excellent movement. With the confidence she has picked up in 2021, and with Tursunov in tow, things look good heading into the new year. The rest of the top 10 need to look out.