Anett Kontaveit has lost her second round Italian Open encounter in Rome, against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in three sets, 6:4, 5:7, 6:3, in a game which lasted two hours and 45 minutes and saw Kontaveit picking up an injury ahead of next week's French Open.
The first set in Rome started evenly with both players holding their serve until the score in games was 3:3. Two games later, the Estonian, who reached the semi-finals of the same tournament in 2018, broke her opponent's serve making things 5:3 and, while Kuznetsova, who have met once before at the same tournament when Kontaveit, ranked 21st in the world, won in straight sets, was able to return the favor and break Kontaveit's serve to make things 5:4, Kontaveit wrapped the set up in the next game, by holding her serve and taking the set 6:4.
The second set started in much the same fashion, with the scores soon 4:4 – in the eight game, the Russian player held off two break points and held her serve, then went to break Kontaveit's serve in the very next game. Kontaveit reciprocated in game 10, to make things 5:5. Kuznetsova then broke the Estonian's serve again, then won her own service to take the set 7:5.
In the third set Kuznetsova continued her run of breaking serves, doing so twice in three games after Kontaveit took the opening game, until things were at 4:1. Kontaveit broke again and won her next service, making things 4:3, but that was the last game she clinched as Kuznetsova went on to win her serve and, with things at 40:30 in the final game, break again to take set and match.
Kuznetsova, 35, is a two-time grand slam tournament winner, albeit some years ago, having won the French Open in 2009 and the U.S. Open in 2004.
"It was a very physical and difficult game. My opponent also played well. I think I played [the first] two sets very well. At the end of the second set I made a couple of stupid mistakes. I started to rush things," Kontaveit said after the game, ERR sports portal reports.
Kontaveit also said she could have taken a medical break after her back started hurting.
"Two hours took a lot out of me; in the decisive set my legs became very tense, and my lower back started to hurt a bit. It was quite difficult to play."
"I didn't take the decision to leave the field either. It's always hard for me to make that decision. Maybe I should have stopped the game," she added, saying that she will need a few days' physiotherapy.
Her hectic schedule after a long break due to the pandemic, which saw her play in the Cincinnati tournament, the U.S. Open where she reached the last 16, and the Rome tournament, in the space of a month, was perhaps the cause of the issue.
"I think there's been a lot of playing, everything had arrived in a row. After New York, I was at home for one day and then flew here right away."
"Now I can be home for a few days and fly to Paris on Wednesday," she added, referring to the postponed French Open, usually in May, which is now taking place at the Roland Garros from next Monday.
Editor: Andrew Whyte