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Sakkari and Kontaveit go head to head for St Petersburg title, world No 6 spot

There will be more than bragging rights at stake when the two women meet for the 13th time on Sunday

Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit WTA Finals 2021 Zuma/Panoramic

Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit will meet for the 13th time in their careers on Sunday, the two women tied at 6-6 since they first met in Indian Wells in 2016.

But there is a lot more than bragging rights on the line for this one. For a start, there is the small matter of the St Petersburg Ladies Open at stake. Then there’s the fact that whoever wins will take over the world No 6 ranking, which would represent a career-high ranking for both, though Sakkari has already been there.

Surprisingly, only two of their 12 meetings have gone the distance; their Grampians Trophy battle in Melbourne at the start of last year and their WTA Finals encounter at the end of the season.

Sakkari faces quick turnaround

Sakkari will have to recover physically from her gruelling 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4 win over Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania after three hours, four minutes. Kontaveit beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final.

“It was a very tough match,” Sakkari said. “I think Begu played really, really well. The level of the match was super-high. I had to come up with some very tough shots and very physical tennis, but I’m very glad I did it, and I’m super excited to be in the final here.”

Kontaveit extends indoor winning streak to 19

Second seed Kontaveit found herself 3-0 down in no time against former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. But the Estonian won eight straight games to take control and though Ostapenko, who had a medical timeout at 2-1 down in the second set for a left foot issue, battled hard, Kontaveit held on to win her 19th straight indoor match, the best run by any woman since Justine Henin in 2010 and sixth-best dating back to 1989.

And if she’s at all superstitious, she might just look back at last year’s Ostrava WTA event, where her streak began. There, she beat Belinda Bencic in the quarter-final and then Sakkari in the final. This week, she beat Bencic again in the quarter-finals and on Sunday, she’ll go for another win over the Greek.

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