Anett Kontaveit is through to round two of the Grampians Trophy in Melbourne, after defeating Christina McHale (U.S.) in straight sets, 6:1, 6:3, ERR's sports portal reports. The competition has been set up to allow for several women's tennis players who got caught up in Australia's coronavirus regulations.
In the nearly 90-minute encounter, the Estonian, 25, from Tallinn, won her first service game, as did her opponent. However, Kontaveit then won the next five games on the trot, to take the first set 6:1.
The second set was more of a marathon, at least in its opening game, where McHale, ranked 82nd in the world, saved two break points, but still lost in the end. Kontaveit was 40:0 down in the second game and facing the prospect of her service being broken too, only to pull back and win the game and, after facing down two break points, the following game too, making thins 3:1 to the Estonian.
McHale finally broke Kontaveit's service in the next game, and held her serve in the following, only for Kontaveit to put together three games in a row, to take the set 6:3 and thus the match, which ended with the American committing a double fault.
Kontaveit served up five aces in the match and made two double faults, to two aces and two double faults – the latter both in the final game – by McHale.
Kontaveit, ranked 23rd in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) list, will face another American in round two, Bethanie Mattek-Sands (WTA 339), who defeated world number 38 Barbora Strycova in straight sets in her first round encounter.
The pair have never faced each other; Mattek-Sands is 10 years Kontaveit's senior, and is more of a doubles specialist.
The Grampians Trophy was a last-minute addition to the calendar, only being set up last week. Like the concurrent Gippsland Trophy – which Kontaveit's compatriot Kaia Kanepi is through to round three in – the competition is a warmer for the Australian Open, which starts next week.
The extra tournament, which sees less than a dozen entrants, was opened up for WTA players who were required to spend two weeks in full quarantine after flying in on a plane where at least one passenger had tested positive for COVID-19.
These players were barred from leaving their rooms even to train. Kaia Kanepi was on a separate flight with no proven coronavirus carrier on the passenger list and so, while she also had to quarantine on arrival, was permitted to leave the room to train, up to five hours per day.
"It was an interesting situation. In terms of hits and movement, I felt fine on court. I still exercised several times per day in my room, and didn't lie on the bed as much as I could have," Kontaveit said after the game, speaking to Estonian reporters.
Australia's summer sunshine however was more of a challenge, she said.
"Particularly in the second set, I felt that the sun was draining so much energy from me, and those games somehow dragged on there, in the beginning of the second set," she continued. "Luckily I was able to find energy again."
The Gippsland Trophy also started on January 31, four days before the Grampians tournament.
Editor: Andrew Whyte