Barbora Krejcikova, the 7th seed from the Czech Republic, snatched the Tallinn Open title away from Anett Kontaveit’s grasp on Sunday in front of the top seed’s home crowd, returning to the winner’s circle for the first time in over a year at the FORUS Tennis Center in Tondi.
It has been a great honour for me to play tennis in front of the President of Estonia, the President of the Estonian tennis association and the Mayor of Tallinn. Thank you very much for coming here. Congratulations are due to Barbora, you played perfectly, and were just too good today. Naturally, I would like to thank the city of Tallinn, since without their support this tournament would not have taken place here. Anett Kontaveit
To win the 4th title of her career, Krejcikova beat the home favourite, 6-2 6-3, in just an hour and 21 minutes.
“Really proud how I was able to bring my best performance for the final,” Krejcikova said afterwards. “I was expecting that Anett is going to play fast, and she would try to put me under pressure from the first point. So I was just trying to play my game, and just trying to eliminate that.
“I just really wanted to go out there and play my best tennis, and just try to enjoy the final, because it took me a lot of fight and energy to get there.”
Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, has struggled with injuries this season but the 26-year old found form this week in Estonia to beat the top 3 seeds, adding Kontaveit to 2nd-seeded Belinda Bencic from Switzerland and Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 3rd seed, in addition to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic and Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine.
After triumphing on home soil in Prague last July, Krejcikova only made one singles final since then, in which she lost to Paula Badosa at Sydney in January.
Kontaveit’s path to the final, in front of a home crowd, saw her beat China’s Wang Xiyu, followed by another Czech, Tereza Martincova and then Ysaline Bonaventure from Belgium, setting her up with an all-Estonian semi-final against Estonia’s veteran star player, Kaia Kanepi, on Saturday.
Ranked 4 in the world, Kanepi defeated Kanepi, the World No 32 in their first WTA-level encounter played in front of home fans.
Kontaveit came into the match off the back of a 24-game winning streak on hard courts.
On the day of the final, in front of the sell-out crowd which included President Alar Karis, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart, the Czech proved the stronger of the two, going ahead 4-2 in the first set after breaking the Estonian’s serve, and breaking again to take it, 6-2, with a drop-shot winner.
Krejcikova had 6 winners to 5 unforced errors in the opener, while Kontaveit fired 13 unforced errors to just 3 winners.
Each went up by a break in the back-and-forth second, before reaching 3-3, but Krejcikova took charge again, slamming a forehand winner down the line to break for 5-3, and grabbing the title after Kontaveit sent her forehand wide on the Czech’s first championship point.
“Every trophy is special, especially in singles right now, where this year was really tough, so it means a lot,” Krejcikova added. “It was a really amazing week, a special week.”
Kontaveit served up just 2 aces and committed 3 double-faults in the final, against Krejcikova’s 4 aces and 3 doubles, while the Estonian could only convert 2 out of 5 break points presented to her, compared to the Czech’s 5 out of 9.
Krejcikova won 71 percent of points returning the Kontaveit second serve, while also winning 68 percent of her own second-service points, collecting her 6th career win over a Top 10 player in the process.
Krejcikova’s singles rebound is bolstered by another incredible year for her in doubles in which she and Katerina Siniakova have won 3 Grand Slam title in women’s doubles, at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.
Despite the disappointment, Kontaveit was gracious in her remarks afterwards.
“It has been a great honour for me to play tennis in front of the President of Estonia, the President of the Estonian tennis association and the Mayor of Tallinn,” she said. “Thank you very much for coming here.
“Congratulations are due to Barbora, you played perfectly, and were just too good today.
“Naturally, I would like to thank the city of Tallinn, since without their support this tournament would not have taken place here.
“I am glad that the WTA tournament took place in our home town,” Kontaveit added.
Krejcikova responded by saying: “I want to wish Anett the best of luck. I’m very sorry to have to be standing here now, but I really wanted to win this title!
“It’s always tough to play at a final, and thank you so much for making me play my very best tennis.”
The doubles final closed out the Tallinn Open, where twin sisters and 3rd-seeded Lyudmyla & Nadiia Kichenok from Ukraine eked out the win over American Nicole Melichar-Martinez & Laura Siegemund from Germany, the top seed, 7-5 4-6 [10-7].
The Kichenok sisters needed just under 2 hours to edge the No 1 seeds and take the doubles honours.
It is the 8th WTA doubles title for both Lyudmyla and Nadiia individually, and their 4th as a team together.
Later, the President of Estonia, Alar Karis, praised the well-run the tournament, telling local television that he was certain the tournament would return to the Estonian capital.
When the announcement was made in May confirming Tallinn would be hosting its first-ever WTA 250 event, a provisional 3-year deal was reportedly signed, funded via a combination of state, Tallinn city government and private sector support.