Anett Kontaveit and Elina Svitolina claimed the titles at the Tennis in the Land tournament in Cleveland and the WTA Chicago Women’s Open on Saturday, providing them with the perfect warm-up for the US Open, which starts on Monday.
It was a good week here. Tough conditions the last few days, but in the end I’m very happy I could get a trophy. It’s a good feeling. I came here to get some confidence, play some good matches, and in the end it happened like that. I’m looking forward to New York. Elina Svitolina
Tennis of the Land – Cleveland
Kontaveit won her second WTA tournament after defeating Irina-Camelia Begu from Romania, 7-6(5) 6-4, the World No 64.
It was sweet success for the Estonian, who has reached 9 career finals, most recently in Eastbourne in late June, where she lost to Latvian Jelena Ostapenko.
Since Eastbourne, Kontaveit experienced a dip in form and went out in the first rounds of 3 consecutive tournaments at the Olympics, Montreal and Cincinnati but made good on the hard-courts at the Jacobs Pavilion in Cleveland on Saturday, having recently started working with a new coach, former top player Dmitry Tursunov, on a trial basis.
Kontaveit, the 2nd seed, built an early lead but at 5-3 let Begu back in the race, who won 2 games in a row to level.
The Estonian rescued 4 break points before the set went into the tiebreak, which she was able to snag, 7-5.
Begu served up 4 aces alongside 2 double-faults in the opener, while Kontaveit delivered 2 aces with zero faults.
Kontaveit was dominant again at the start of the second, but a 3-1 lead was pegged back to 4-3 when the 25-year old from Tallinn only allowed Begu one further game before claiming the title.
The Estonian converted both her break points in the match and fired 25 winners against just 15 unforced errors, while Begu belted 27 winners, but couldn’t overcome 25 unforced errors and could only muster 1 out of her 5 break opportunities.
On Monday, Kontaveit opens her campaign at the US Open, where she meets Australia’s Sam Stosur in the first round.
In the doubles final Japan’s Shuko Aoyama & Ena Shibahara beat India’s former doubles World No 1 Sania Mirza & Christina McHale of the USA, 7-5 6-3, who playing their first tournament as a pair.
The Indo-American pair went toe-to-toe with the Japanese top seeds in the opening set and although a break in the 7th game pegged them back, Mirza & McHale restored parity in the very next game.
The pair fell short again in the 11th game as another break handed Aoyama & Shibahara the opening set.
The Japanese pair got off to a good start in the second with an early break and cruised to the win.
WTA Chicago Women’s Open
Svitolina, the World No 6 and top seed, captured the 16th WTA title of her career, and her first since the clay-court tournament in Strasbourg almost a year ago after holding off France’s Alizé Cornet, 7-5 6-4, to win the inaugural Chicago Women’s Open on Saturday after 2 hours 2 minutes play.
The win brings Svitolina an outstanding 16-3 win-loss record in WTA singles finals.
In a match that saw 10 breaks of serve, Svitolina converted all 6 break chances she had, breaking Cornet one last time with a backhand winner to the baseline on championship point.
Consecutive forehand return winners gave Svitolina an early break at 2-0 in the opener, but deft lobs and drop-shots by the crafty Cornet helped pull her back on serve and she stayed there through 5-5.
Cornet held 3 break points, but Svitolina batted each away and held on for 6-5, as the Frenchwoman started to struggle with her movement.
She let a 40-15 lead slip in the next game, where Svitolina eventually broke for the one-set lead after drawing an error with a forehand down the line.
Cornet needed an off-court medical time-out to have her leg tended to, and fell behind 3-0 in the second on her return before making a run as Svitolina could not hold onto her leads, including when she served for the match at 5-3.
Svitolina finally grabbed her chance when a forehand miscue by Cornet at 5-4 gave Svitolina her first championship point, which she converted with a superb backhand winner that landed square on the baseline.
“It was a good week here,” Svitolina told the press, after her win. “Tough conditions the last few days, but in the end I’m very happy I could get a trophy.
“It’s a good feeling. I came here to get some confidence, play some good matches, and in the end it happened like that. I’m looking forward to New York.
“It’s never easy to play against Alizé because she’s a great fighter, she puts a lot of balls back, and when it’s conditions like this, you’re not only playing against your opponent, you’re also playing against the conditions, so you have to be smart with this game.”
Svitolina and Cornet both head on to the US Open next week, where they each have intriguing first-round clashes.
Svitolina, seeded No 5 in New York and a semi-finalist at the Open in 2019, will take on Canadian qualifier Rebecca Marino, who was in the Top 40 a decade ago, and has had a resurgent 2021 after nearly 5 years off the tour.
Cornet, who reached the round of 16 at the US Open last year, will have her hands full against No 20 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who is having a career-best year, winning her first title in Birmingham and reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
In the doubles final, a sister act took place, but on opposite sides of the court.
No 3 seeds Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine & Raluca Olaru of Romania claimed the title, defeating Nadiia’s twin sister Lyudmyla and her partner Makoto Ninomiya, the No 4 seeds, 7-6(6) 5-7 [10-8].
“It was a really tough match, for me especially,” Nadiia Kichenok said, after the match. “It’s always tough to play against your sister, extra nerves, and I want to thank Raluca for helping me! But it was a good match, a close match, and I’m really happy we made it as the winners today.”
The closely-contested final spanned 2 days, as it was postponed overnight with Nadiia Kichenok & Olaru ahead by a set, but trailing 2-4 in the second set.