Anett Kontaveit, the hottest player on the WTA Tour, got off to a strong start Wednesday in the WTA Finals at Guadalajara, Mexico.
The eighth seed in the eight-player event upset second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4 in just 75 minutes.
Kontaveit, a 25-year-old Estonian, is coming off a superb October in which she reached the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, Calif., before capturing tournament championships in Moscow and Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
The win over top-seeded Simona Halep of Romania in the Cluj-Napoca sealed Kontaveit’s first-ever entry into the tour’s season-ending championship.
“It’s really special to be here, and I’m really proud to have pulled this off,” Kontaveit said. “Now I’m just enjoying being here, enjoying Mexico, the food, and just being out on the court.”
Her fine form continued against Krejcikova, as Kontaveit never faced a break point and converted two of her three break opportunities.
“I’m definitely very happy to get the win today,” Kontaveit said. “It was such a tough match and I really had to fight hard for it. …
“The serve played a big part today, and my first serve definitely helped. I could have made a few more of those, but I was just trying to stay tough and getting as many balls back as I could.”
The match was the opener of the Group B round robin. The other first-round match in the group, No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic edged No. 6 Garbine Muguruza of Spain 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6).
The decisive tiebreaker saw both players struggle on their serve, with the serving player winning just three of the 14 points.
Group A play begins Thursday with No. 4 Maria Sakkari of Greece opposing No. 5 Iga Swiatek of Poland before No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus meets No. 7 Paula Badosa of Spain.
The top two players in each group will advance to the semifinals.
Upper Austria Ladies Linz
Two U.S. players will square off in the semifinals at Linz, Austria, after posting straight-set wins Wednesday.
Third-seeded Danielle Collins downed Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5, 6-3, and Alison Riske beat China’s Xinyu Wang 6-3, 7-5.
Second-seeded Simona Halep rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 win over seventh-seeded Jasmine Paolini of Italy. Halep’s semifinal opponent will be her Romanian countrywoman Jaqueline Cristian, who upset fourth-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-3, 7-6 (5).
–Field Level Media
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