Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit overturned the form books by taking out the two top seeds at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open on Saturday, upsetting Iga Swiatek and Petra Kvitova respectively, and they will now meet in Sunday’s final.
A title would be ideal, but it’s already a very positive week. I’m just going to enjoy being in another final tomorrow, and back myself that I can lift the trophy, of course. Maria Sakkari
Sakkari, the No 4 seed, got past No 1 seed and 2020 French Open champion Swiatek, 6-4 7-5, while Kontaveit beat two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, 6-0 6-4, to set up the surprise final.
“It was a very high-level match, and I’m very happy that I could bring that level,” said the Greek, who also ended Swiatek’s French Open title defence in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros earlier this year.
Sakkari has advanced to her first final since 2019, having lost in the 9 semi-finals she has reached since then.
It took her an hour and 51-minutes to carve out the win over the top seed, winning 77 percent of points on her first serve, finishing the match with 22 winners to Swiatek’s 19, and being broken just once as she built a strong lead and held on through a closely contested second set.
She also converted 3 of the 5 break points she held on Swiatek’s serve, while saving 2 of the 3 break points she faced.
“I think we both played better today,” Sakkari told the press, comparing this match to their Roland Garros encounter. “It was a very high-level match, and I’m very happy that I could bring that level today.
“It’s a very important thing for me, and Iga is a very tough opponent because she’s very solid and she fights a lot.
“She’s one of the best players now, and I’m very happy with the way I played.”
Ranked at a career high of 12, the Greek has collected 7 wins over Top 10 players this season following her latest victory over Swiatek, the World No 6, and she is No 6 on the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals Leaderboard.
Sakkari struck in the very first game, slamming a forehand winner to obtain the decisive lone break of the opening set in which she never faced a break point herself, sweeping past the Pole with 13 winners to Swiatek’s 9.
She was severely tested in two lengthy service games in the early stages of the second, and had to fend off her first break point of the day before holding for 2-2 but, after pulling herself out of danger, the Greek drew errors from Swiatek to move ahead ahead 3-2.
The top seed finally broke, charging into the forecourt for a put-away to level the set at 4-4, but she buckled under pressure at 5-5 when the Greek converted her 3rd break point with a forehand winner down the line to go up 6-5, polishing off the win on her first match point in the following game.
She is now one win away from her second career WTA singles title but, to land that, Sakkari will have to beat Kontaveit.
“A title would be ideal, but it’s already a very positive week,” Sakkari added. “I’m just going to enjoy being in another final tomorrow, and back myself that I can lift the trophy, of course.”
Kontaveit upset the 3rd seed and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic to reach the semi-finals, and then dispatched Kvitova, the World No 10 and 2nd seed, in front of her home crowd on Saturday.
The Estonian overturned a 2-5 win-to-loss record against the home favourite to notch a straight sets win in an hour 11 minutes.
Unseeded and ranked 30, Kontaveit was untroubled throughout the match as the Czech could not bring her erratic shot-making under control.
Kontaveit struck 18 winners to 7 unforced errors in the match, with only 2 coming in the second set, while Kvitova had 11 winners against 18 miscues.
Those unforced errors were theme of the bagel opening set, in which Kvitova had a whopping 16 against just 2 winners, while Kontaveit made a paltry two.
Kvitova finally got on the scoreboard in the opening game of the second, but Kontaveit was always in charge, taking the lead for good when she struck a backhand winner off of a Czech drop-shot, breaking her to love for 3-2.
The Czech managed to save a match point in a lengthy game to hold serve for 5-4, and she then used a deft lob to obtain her first break point of the encounter in the next game, as Kontaveit served for the win.
The Estonian evaded the danger, though, and sent down an ace to create her 3rd match point, which she converted when Kvitova’s backhand hit the net.
It was a pristine display by Kontaveit on Saturday, who played a clean match while drawing numerous miscues from the left-handed Kvitova.
The Ostrava Open final between Sakkari and Kontaveit will be the 11th time the two will be playing against each other, and the 4th meeting of this season.
The Greek leads the head-to-head 6-4, with two of those wins coming this season, at the Mutua Madrid Open and the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Kontaveit, however, won their clash at the Grampians Trophy, en route to reaching her first final of the year at the Melbourne-based tournament.