Anett Kontaveit is through to the finals of the season-ending Akron WTA tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, after seeing off Maria Sakkari (Greece) in three sets, 6:1, 3:6, 6:3. She will face Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain), a player she lost to earlier in the tournament, in the final.
The match lasted just over two hours and saw several twists and turns of fortune, with Sakkari three games away from victory in the final set at one point.
Kontaveit has seen a revolution in form since the summer – when she had already reached the finals of the Eastbourne tennis tournament in England in June – after taking on new coach, former player Dmitry Tursunov, and has won nearly all her past 30 competitive games, taking victory in the Ostrava, Kremlin Cup and Transylvania WTA tournament finals with it.
This streak punted Kontaveit into the Guadalajara shortlist at the eleventh hour after overtaking Ons Jabeur (Tunisia), and posting her highest rating, at eighth in the world, in her career to date and around 20 places higher than her ranking earlier on in the season.
The Guadalajara competition pits the top eight players worldwide against each other, with two groups of four playing off in a round-robin, and the top two from each group proceeding to the semi-finals.
Kontaveit, 25, from Tallinn beat Barbora Krejčíková and Karolina Pliškova, both from the Czech Republic, in the round-robin, and while she lost to Muguruza in the third group game, this didn't hamper her progress to the final as she had already qualified. The result also let Muguruza into the semi-finals.
Meanwhile Sakkari made it to the semis after beating Arina Sabalenka (Belarus) 7:6 (1), 6:7 (6), 6:3.
Wednesday's encounter between the Estonian, ranked number 8 in the world, and the Greek player, ranked sixth, began in the similar style we've become used to seeing from Kontaveit since late summer, breaking Sakkar's serve twice and holding her own, to win set one in 28 minutes and winning over three-quarters of her points from the first serve.
Sakkari's serve was stronger in set two and, ERR's sports portal reports, she gained strength from a rowdy crowd in the Estadio Akron de Tenis in Guadalajara, and only lost her service once, hitting six aces and saving three break points to take the set 6:3.
In the third, decisive set, Sakkari continued her renewed form, breaking the Estonian's serve in game five and looking within striking distance of victory with things at 3:2. However, Kontaveit dug in tremendously and denied Sakkari a single game more, stringing together four in a row to take the set 6:3, and with it the match.
The other semi-final was an all-Spanish affair - played in a country which more-or-less won its independence from Spain 200 years ago this year - meaning one way or another a Spanish player would reach the final in Guadalajara for the first time since Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the 1990s.
In the event, Muguruza, who beat Kontaveit 6:4, 6:4 on Sunday, won out over her compatriot Paula Badosa 6:3, 6:3 to set up the rematch.
Wednesday's final takes place no earlier than 7.30 p.m. local time (3.30 a.m. on the Thursday, in Estonia).
The overall head-to-head win-loss rate between the pair is currently 3:2 in the Spaniard's favor.
Editor: Andrew Whyte