Former top Estonian tennis player Anett Kontaveit, who announced her retirement from the sport earlier this year, is through to the Luxembourg Ladies Tennis Masters after overcoming Luice Šafarova (Czech Republic) in straight sets, 6:4, 6:3, on Saturday.
The Luxembourg Masters is as its name suggests, a showcase tournament for former top players and this year featured invited alumni such as Kim Clijsters and Daniela Hantuchova in its draw of eight. Having retired in summer, Kontaveit, 27, is the youngest entrant.
The Estonian, who ranked number two in the world in summer 2022 but had her top career cut short by niggling injuries, beat Monica Puig 6:4, 6:4 in Friday's opening round.
This took her through to the semi-finals against Šafarova, who had overcome Pauline Parmentier (France) 6-1, 6-1.
Šafarova, 36, was a French Open finalist in 2015, ending up as runner-up after taking Serena Williams to three sets. Her career-high world ranking is fifth. She was also a top doubles player, taking five grand slam titles with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and olympic bronze in Rio in 2016, partnering with Barbora Strycova. She retired in 2019.
Kontaveit and Šafarova had met competitively on-court once, at the 2017 US Open, when Šafarova was the winner, over three sets.
On Saturday, Kontaveit lost the opening game, then strung together three games in-a-row. Thereafter the players took it in turns to win their service games, but Kontaveit held on to her earlier advantage to take the set 6:4 at the Coque Luxembourg – Kirchberg.
The second set started evenly, going to 2:2, then 3:3 as both players broke each other's service. However, Kontaveit broke again and won three games straight, to take the set, and with it the match.
Post match, Kontaveit said: "I was very happy with my level and playing here, everything went perfectly."
"I tried to be very aggressive, which worked really well today. I felt like I had maintained a good level throughout the match, though it was simply a tough fight and I'm delighted to come away with the win."
Former top 10 player and 2014 French Open semi-finalist Andrea Petkovic overcame local star Mandy Minella in three sets in the other semi-final on Saturday, setting her up for a final showdown with Kontaveit Sunday, from 3.30 p.m. Estonian time.
Kontaveit announced her retirement from the sport shortly before this year's Wimbledon Championships, having been out of competition since early on in the year, due mainly to a lumbar issues which would have required constant management through the rest of her playing career.
She is also set to play world number seven and personal friend Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) in Tallinn in November, which will effectively be Kontaveit's testimonial game.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Anders Nõmm, Kristjan Kallaste