Tennis player Anett Kontaveit is through to round two of the Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, after overcoming Serbian player Nina Stojanovic in straight, but closely-fought sets, 7:6 (4), 7.5 on Friday.
Kontaveit, ranked 29th worldwide, recently traded coaches, taking on her compatriot Ain Suurthal and saying goodbye to Briton Nigel Sears after three years working together. On Friday, she had issues with her service during the encounter, at the Caja Magica.
Kontaveit told portal Delfi (link in Estonian) after the game that: "I was certainly not happy with my service. It seemed that the first serve didn't connect with the court at all. Somehow I was anxious to be on court, and I didn't feel very comfortable."
"My opponent played a decent game, even a little better than I had expected. It was a very combative match, with a lot of equal games and plenty of opportunities which I did not take advantage of… however, victory is victory. "
After losing her service early on in set one, Kontaveit pulled back to 4:2, but Stojanovic, ranked 88th in the world, was able to both break the Estonian's serve and hold her own, to take the lead at 5:4. However, despite serving for the set she was unable to capitalize on things, getting her set broken. While Kontaveit won her service next, the Serbian player did same taking things to a tie break, which was similarly equally paced at 4:4 at one point, only for Kontaveit to string together three points in a row to take the tie-breaker and set.
The second set saw similar form; Kontaveit broke Stojanovic's serve in game one, but then lost her own in the next, However, the Estonian also broke again and held her next service to take things to 4:2 and somewhat of a feeling of deja vu. The Serb had not given up, however, and while Kontaveit had three match-points in hand, at 40:0 with the games 5:3 in her favor, Stojanovic pulled out all the stops and saved the game, before going on to win her service and take things even-stevens once again at 5:5. That was the end of the valiant fightback, however, as Kontaveit wrapped things up with two more games, holding her own service and breaking Stojanovic's.
The two sets lasted two hours, with Kontaveit serving up one ace and three double faults to Stojanovic's four and five.
Despite her service woes, the Estonian won slightly more of her first serves – 58 percent, than her opponent (54 percent), and the gap was even narrower on second serves (55.2 percent and 48 percent respectively).
Of points played, the Estonian won 96 to Stojanovic's 85, while Kontaveit made 10 unforced errors compared with Stojanovic's 13.
Kontaveit broke her opponent's serve seven times out of 12 chances; Stojanovic broke every time she had the chance, at six out of six.
Kontaveit next faces the world number 19, Maria Sakkari of Greece, who overcame Amanda Anisimova (U.S., WTA 38th) 0:6, 6:1, 6:4, in another arduous game.
Kontaveit and Sakkari have played eight times in the past, winning four apiece, while the last encounter was early on this year at the Grampians trophy in Melbourne, where Estonian put the Serbian out in the semi-finals.
The statistics are equally divided on clay courts – such as those in Madrid – too, where they have one win each, the last being Sakkari's, in Rome two years ago, in straight sets.
"She (Sakkari-ed.) played a very good tournament in Miami (in late-March - ed.). We always have equal fights, one wins one, the other the next. She definitely wants her revenge after the last match, but equally, I want to win too," Kontaveit said of her next encounter.
Fellow Estonian Kaia Kanepi was knocked out of round to of the qualifiers for the Madrid tournament earlier in the week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte