In a WTA season that has been much maligned since Australia about the lack of star power on tour, one could see the upcoming French Open as a chance to revel in the chaos of the wide open tournament, and enjoy the scene as so many athletes look to claim their space on the big stage. One woman who has been quietly emerging from the pack this season is Anett Kontaveit. The 21-year-old Estonian has used a sneaky good 2nd quarter of 2017 to showcase her game and put herself into position to climb even further this year.
Kontaveit grew up playing tennis from a young age. Her mother, a tennis coach in her homeland, would often “drag” her daughter to the courts and instill in her early the work ethic, determination, and competitiveness that are so evident in her powerful game. In a recent interview with the WTA Insider, Kontaveit discuss this will to win. “I like the competing and the fighting. I think it’s [tennis] a really intelligent sport; I really like it. Kontaveit had shown much promise prior to 2017. ” This dedication to being present in the tense moments has served her well in 2017 as she has made her first WTA tour final in Biel, as well as made the quarters of WTA premiere mandatory events like Rome and Stuttgart. In those deep runs, Kontaveit showed a real talent for playing well in the big points, on the big stage, with the big crowds watching–no starry eyed overwhelming sensations seemed to eclipse the focus of the moment for her.
Beyond her ability to handle the big moment, Kontaveit also has a big game designed for aggression and power. A huge forehand, which she can use in a number of ways, sets up so many points for her. Kontaveit attacks second serves regularly, and is also capable of hitting the big forehand while on the move, which helps her be subtly nimble at turning defense to offense. According to the WTA, Kontaveit is winning over half of her second serve returns, and converting 48% of her break point opportunities. She has wielded this powerful game to major wins this season over the likes of Angelique Kerber and Garbine Mugurugza, climbing to a career high ranking of #52 in the world– up some 70 spots from where she started 2017.
The rest of 2017 looks as a chance for Kontaveit to earn many points and climb even higher in the rankings. Although clay is not her preferred surface, she has already acquired a large number of points on the surface this season. Kontaveit has already had great results on the hard courts and more specifically the US Open. In 2012, Kontaveit was the first Estonian to reach a junior Slam final by making the finals of the US Open, where she lost to Eugenie Bouchard. In 2015, Kontaveit advanced to the 4th round of the US Open as a senior player. With her best surfaces looming before her (Kontaveit has also had grass success), and a game that seems to be growing in both confidence and precision, Kontaveit could easily finish the season in the top 30 or even possibly the top 20 in the world.