Anett Kontaveit has lost in the all-Baltic States' final of the WTA Viking International Eastbourne tournament, 6:3, 6:3 following a commanding performance from Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.
Kontaveit, ranked 27th worldwide, had had a relatively easy semi-final after her opponent, Camila Giorgi, needed to pull out due to injury before the first set was wrapped up. However, it was the Latvian, ranked 54th in the world, who held the initiative for most of the game, only having her serve broken once and ahead from game three in both sets, not looking back either time.
The competition is the traditional women's warm-up to Wimbledon, which starts Monday, while Eastbourne is a favorite venue of Kontaveit's, she noted in the post-match interview. Ostapenko, 24, from Riga, had won her semi-final encounter with Elena Ryabkina (Kazakhstan) in straight sets, 6:4, 6:1.
Ostapenko dominated the opening games of the first set, breaking her opponent's serve on game three, and again in game five as the Estonian struggled with unforced errors. With things at 5:1, however, Kontaveit, 25, saw herself finding her form and broke Ostapenko's serve for the first time, while holding her own. However, that was not enough to close the gap, and Ostapenko held her service in game nine to take the set.
Set two began in a similar vein, both players holding their service in the first three games, until Ostapenko broke Kontaveit in game four, and decisively held her own serve in the next game.
Kontaveit held her own service in the next game with a convincing 40:0 scoreline ending in a cross-court backhander. Ostapenko had gotten into a set two groove at the English seaside resort town by then, however, and took the next game, despite dropping a couple of points, including one to a strong passing shot which rattled up the right side of the tramlines, and things were soon 5:2, with Kontaveit to serve.
Facing strong work on both forehand and backhand, with one passing shot on each from the Latvian, Kontaveit held on to a lifeline with things at deuce, followed by a line call going in her favor to take advantage. She aced Ostapenko on her next first serve, making it 5:3 in games, with Ostapenko to serve.
The Latvian soon had things at 40:15 in her favor and thus two matchpoints. Kontaveit rescued the first, but lobbed the second return long, handing the set and the match to Ostapenko, 6:3, 6:3.
The entire encounter at the Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club lasted a little over one hour and five minutes.
Kontaveit's sole WTA tournament final victory in her career so far dates back to 2017, when she won the Ricoh Open, held in the Netherlands.
Kontaveit told the BBC's Clare Balding post-match that she: "Came here with no expectations and ended up having a great week and really feeling ready for Wimbledon."
"Congratulations to Jelena, she played a really great match. I've had a really good week and I've played good tennis and I'm very happy with the way I was performing this week," she added.
Kontaveit still got to take home a cheque for US$51,000 and a bottle of English sparkling wine for her troubles, and is in action again Monday against Marketa Vondroušova of the Czech Republic in round one of Wimbledon.
Editor: Andrew Whyte