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Kontaveit storms back to beat Sakkari for St Petersburg title, hits career-high No 6

The Estonian won her 20th straight indoor match to pick up her sixth career title

Anett Kontaveit St Petersburg win AI / Reuters / Panoramic

There is simply no stopping Anett Kontaveit right now, especially indoors.

The Estonian recovered from 5-2 down in the final set to beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 5-7, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in a topsy-turvy final of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Sunday, storming back to win the last five games and clinch her sixth career title and the 26-year-old will climb to a career-high ranking of No 6 on Monday.

“I can’t quite believe it right now,” said Kontaveit, who has now won 20 consecutive indoor matches, the best since Justine Henin in 2010. “I’m very happy with that achievement. It was such a tough battle out here today. I’m a little bit speechless.”

Sakkari unable to close out match

Sakkari looked to have worn down Kontaveit’s resistance when she led 5-2 in the final set but it was only one break and when she couldn’t close it out at 5-3, the writing was on the wall.

Kontaveit, who won five titles in 2021 as she established herself in the world’s top 10 for the first time, held serve to level at 5-5 and was rewarded for her continued aggression when she broke again before serving out to 15 to clinch yet another indoor title.

Slow start, strong recovery from Sakkari

The two women were level at 6-6 in their previous meetings and Kontaveit looked the likely winner when she raced into a 5-2 lead in the opening set. But Sakkari put together a run of seven straight games to turn the match around, taking the set and leading 2-0 in the second.

Kontaveit hits out, hits back and wins

However, Kontaveit fought back well, breaking to get back on serve and then at 6-5, forcing a set point only for Sakkari to save it and force the tiebreak. But the Estonian was not to be denied and she took it 7-4 to force a deciding set.

Sakkari, who has won just one WTA Tour title, seemed home when she extended an early lead in the decider to 5-2 but Kontaveit, as she has done so many times in the past year, went for broke and it worked as she reeled off five straight games to win again, and take a 7-6 lead over the Greek in their 13 meetings.

Sakkari paid tribute to the performance of one of her best friends on the Tour.

“This feels familiar,” she said. “Anett, here we are once again. It’s disappointing from my side but you really deserve it. We’re great friends and I’m really happy for you for your achievements.”

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