Anett Kontaveit: “It’s amazing to play on the big courts”
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit followed up her win over world number 1 Angelique Kerber with a 6-1 6-1 win over Mirijana Lucic Baroni in the Next Gen Arena to cruise through to her second Premier-level quarter final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome.Last month she reached her first Premier quarter final in Stuttgart. The Tallin-born player is projected to enter the top-50 for the first time in her career next week.
Kontaveit broke twice in the second and fourth games and fired an ace to close out the first set in just 20 minutes. The Estonian player converted on her sixth break point after a very long first game of the second set and broke twice more in the fifth and seventh games to close out the match. Lucic Baroni had to serve to stay in the match, but sent a shot long on the match point.
Kontaveit started her Rome campaign with a 6-3 6-4 win over Andrea Petkovic in the first round followed by a 6-4 6-6-0 win over Kerbe.
“It feels great. My first time in the quarter finals in such a big event, it’s really exciting. I thought I played really great. I managed to do all the right things and stay with her. That was the plan. Of course you have goals and dreams. I just try to take it really match by match and focus on every tournament and all these matches. It’s all really new to me. I am still gaining a lot of experience and getting used to all these things. That’s the main focus”, said Kontaveit.
At Junior level Kontaveit was the first Estonian player to reach a Grand Slam Junior final at the 2012 US Open but lost to Samantha Crawford in straight sets in the title match.
Kontaveit came to the fore in the second quarter of 2017 with her maiden WTA final at the Ladies Open in Biel. She followed up this final with two wins against top-ten players beating 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza in Stuttgart and Angelique Kerber in Rome.
The World Number 68 is coached by Glenn Schaap, who worked with Dinara Safina, Nadia Petrova and Jelena Dokic in the past. She won 22 of the last 24 games and beat two top 10 players.
“I have gained a lot of confidence, played so many matches. I have done pretty well, and I am quite happy with where my tennis is going at the moment. I had a good pre-season. I worked really hard, and I think it took me a little while to get into some matches and get match confidence. Once I started playing more and more, everything started to click and that’s what helped. I think it’s all in the tiny, little details. I am not consciously doing something totally different, but I think the confidence helps a lot. When you win some matches and get through some tough patches, it all starts flowing a little easier”.
Kontaveit started playing tennis at a very young age following the example of her mother, who is a tennis coach.
“My mother is a tennis caoch, so she brought me to it. She coached me at a local club, and so since I was really young, she would drag me along to the tennis courts. It was always my interest, and she would help me. I like the competing and the fighting. I think it’s a really intelligent sport, I really like it. I am very competitive in anything and everything. I can’t even name something specific but I just want to win at everything I do. I tend to turn into a competition to make things more interesting”.
Kontaveit admitted during an interview to the WTA website that she looked up to Maria Sharapova and Vika Azarenka, when she was growing up.
“Growing up, Azarenka and Sharapova were both doing really well. I had a lot of respect for them and thought they were really good. I was dreaming of playing on the same stages as them one day. I had the chance to play against Sharapova in Stuttgart. The match was really good. It was close and I was really happy with the way I played. I thought she played amazing. There were still some things I could have done better, which was good because it means I can still improve. It was an amazing experience. It was about getting used to the crowd and the Center Court, but it felt really good. I like playing in front of big crowds, it gives me energy and such motivation, an adrenaline rush. The key is playing your level no matter you are on. It’s amazing to play on the big courts. I don’t feel overwhelmed by them, but I was trying to enjoy those moments because the vibe was crazy.”