Day 3 of the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy at Zhuhai in China produced its first upset of the tournament when defending champion Julia Goerges fell to Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, 2-6 6-4 4-6, after more than two hours of play during which the No 5 seed took a nasty tumble mid-way through the match.
I played a great set in the first; I started well and I was playing quite consistent, It was definitely a big improvement from yesterday. It was a very close match. Anett Kontaveit
“I think it’s a great opportunity being back here again,” Goerges said in her pre-tournament press conference.
“For me, it means that I’ve had a consistent year, which always, like, is the case to be a top player, to be consistent throughout the year.”
Kontaveit, seeded 10th for the title, ran away with the opening set as she broke the German’s serve 3 times.
She broke in the 1st and 5th games to build up a 4-1 lead, held, and broke again to earn her chance to serve out for the first set, closing it out 6-2 in just over half an hour.
The German retaliated despite finding no answer to the Estonian’s serve and crushing forehand, starting the second in determined fashion and using her feet well to come into the net, and holding serve to take an early lead.
It was the Goerges forehand that made the difference in the 4th game, powering across court to wrong-foot Kontaveit and secure the break to open up a 3-1 lead.
Unfortunately, Goerges, 29, fell heavily on to the hard court in the 6th game of the second set, and needed to ice her right thigh during the changeover.
Clearly slightly rattled, the World No 14 managed to claim the set, breaking the Kontaveit serve once more and seal the second set, 6-4.
She pumped her fist and gestured to her coach in celebration to force the decider.
It was the 22-year-old Estonian, however, the World No 20, who won the decider at the Hengqin International Tennis Center to score a win and a loss in the Rose Group.
In what became a thrillingly balanced three-setter encounter, both players needed the win to have any chance to progress into the semi-finals and had Kontaveit lost on Wednesday, she would have been out of the tournament.
An on-court chat with her coach, Nigel Sears, had helped Kontaveit turn the corner as he convinced her that beating Goerges was well within her grasp, but it would take hard work.
“I played a great set in the first; I started well and I was playing quite consistent,” said Kontaveit afterwards, adding praise for Goerges’s serving in the second set.
“It was definitely a big improvement from yesterday. It was a very close match.
“I think in the third set I was just trying to stay tough. It was close all along. In the end, it was about holding the serve and being consistent on the serve. I think I managed to do that well in the third.
“I think it definitely helps if you have a match under your belt, sort of get used to everything that you said. I think it gave me an advantage today,” Kontaveit added.
“[The round robin] is definitely different. I guess it’s something that I’m not really used to, but it is what it is and we’ll see about tomorrow.”
Goerges will have to beat Mertens in her final match to move to the semi-finals.