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Anett Kontaveit’s Fairytale Run Complete with 11th Hour WTA Tennis Finals • Wins The Transylvania Open Title on Halloween Over Halep

By: Thomas Cluck

Halloween 2021 will be a memorable one for Anett Kontaveit as the Estonian capped off a fairytale last three months by securing the final spot at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico with her fourth title of 2021 at the Transylvania Open in Romania. 

The second-seeded Kontaveit won her second straight title after last week’s triumph at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, earning her first career victory over top seed and former world number one Simona Halep 6-2, 6-3 today in the final to finish off a week where she didn’t drop a set, her third straight title indoors this fall and fourth title overall in the last three months. 

The race for the final spot at the Finals in Mexico is now complete with a surging Kontaveit knocking off her good friend, the always popular Tunisian Ons Jabeur, for her first appearance at the year-end championship, the WTA’s season-ending showcase event. 

After previously failing to come close in a single set in three prior encounters with Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion playing at home in Romania, Kontaveit blitzed the tournament top seed all day long with her raw power and aggressive gamestyle to frustrate the Romanian and in doing so, make her top ten debut and reach a new career-high ranking of number eight in the world, surpassing a player who had spent so many years firmly entrenched as a stalwart of the women’s top ten and always at the WTA Championships.

Halep always enjoys tons of Romanian support but she is especially hard to beat at home, where the Cluj-Napoca crowd was firmly behind her, but it was Kontaveit that showed no fear and controlled her nerves, a new development in her still young game under new coach Dmitry Tursunov who’s been with the 25 year-old since this summer when this sudden, unexpected run up the rankings and all-out assault on the WTA Tour began.

What was most notable was that despite the surprise and joy on Kontaveit’s face after winning and realizing what she’d done, just how calm and normal it all looked to her, a player reaching uncharted territory each successive week these last several months, a testament to her improved mental strength and confidence on court.

That dominant run across the tour sees Kontaveit, a confidence-player who is more confident and in better form than anyone at tour at the moment, currently on a ten-match win streak, a 15-match indoor win streak, and 26-2 overall since Cleveland right before the US Open at the end of this summer, marking possibly one of the best fall runs ever in the game.

The Estonian will make history for her country as the first WTA Finals qualifier from the small Baltic nation that saw Kaia Kanepi and now Kontaveit put it on the tennis map. 

The eight-woman field in Guadalajara will be comprised of Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejickova, Karolina Pliskova, Maria Sakkari, Iga Swiatek, Garbiñe Muguruza, Paula Badosa, and Kontaveit. Those eight players will be drawn into two groups of four with round-robin group play eventually leading to a knockout stage featuring two semifinals of the top two in each group before the championship match. 

“The 2021 WTA Finals is shaping up to be one of the most exciting year-end finales, highlighting a singles field that features six athletes making their debut and two countries being represented for the first time, spotlighting the true global nature of the tour,” said WTA CEO Steve Simon. 

“The combination of the WTA’s new stars with established champions will treat our fans to a very exciting week in Guadalajara and celebrate an end to a fabulous WTA season.” 

The rare round-robin format always makes it interesting and with so many debutants this year, no player ever knows how they’ll handle it, making for an unpredictable and thrilling event. While she may have been the last to qualify, she’s also on the hottest streak and will surely be a title contender and a name none of the other seven want to see in their group on draw day.

Kontaveit will bring her hot hand and impressive play with her to Mexico in a week and a half’s time with the season-ending championship beginning Wednesday, November Tenth.