Anett Kontaveit is set to face Greek player Maria Sakkari in the semifinals of the showcase WTA Finals tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, after Sakkari defeated Arina Sabalenka 7:6 (1), 6:7 (6), 6:3 on Tuesday.
Sakkari (WTA 6th) defeated Sabalenka (WTA 2nd) in two hours and 47 minutes to advance to the semifinals as the second-place finisher in Group Chichen Itza behind Spanish player Paula Badosa.
Sakkari and Kontaveit (WTA 8th) are close friends and will match up in the early morning hours of Wednesday Estonian time. The two have played on 11 occasions with the Greek holding a slim 6:5 lead in the head-to-head.
"It certainly is not easy playing against a close friend. I think we have gotten used to it. [Sakkari] has had an excellent year and I root for her when I am not playing against her. It is a part of a tennis player's life," Kontaveit said of the match-up.
Sakkari said she told Kontaveit in Moscow that she would see her in Guadalajara for the season-ending showcase tournament. "I'm very glad that [Kontaveit] is here because she's a very nice person and she deserves it," Sakkari said.
"But it all comes down to obviously who plays a better match tomorrow. I'm going to fight for it, do whatever I can to advance to the final. I just really want to enjoy tomorrow's match because the atmosphere here is just unreal," the Greek added.
Kontaveit started the tournament with a 6:3, 6:4 victory over Czech player Barbora Krejcikova last Wednesday night. Her second match of the tournament was against Czech player Karolina Pliškova and the Estonian bested the world number four 6:4, 6:0. The Estonian lost her final group stage match 4:6, 4:6 to Spanish player Garbine Muguruza, but still advanced to the semifinals as the first player from Group Teotihuacan.
The season-ender WTA Finals tournament pits the eight best singles player of the season against each other in a round robin tournament. Kontaveit, ranked eighth in the world, became the first Estonian ever to make the showcase tournament and has won three tournaments this season.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste