French Open 2018

Kontaveit upsets Kvitova

Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on her way to beating eighth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) in the third round yesterday.
Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on her way to beating eighth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) in the third round yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Unfancied Estonian capitalises on clay-court form, plays US Open champion Stephens next

PARIS • Anett Kontaveit continued her progression at the French Open "under the radar", after delighting her small army of Estonian fans by ousting eighth seed Petra Kvitova to reach the last 16 for the first time yesterday.

The 22-year-old, who also reached the fourth round at the Australian Open earlier this year, ended Czech Kvitova's 13-match winning streak with a 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Cheered on by a packed player's box and vocal Estonian fans on Court One, she fired 25 winners and five aces past the two-time Wimbledon champion.

Her cause was also helped by 57 unforced errors and 10 double faults off Kvitova's racket.

Kontaveit's run at Roland Garros follows an excellent clay-court season which has seen her rise to a career-high ranking of No. 24 and reach the semi-finals in Rome.

"I'm not Maria Sharapova, people don't come up to me on the street or anything," she said. "Maybe I've been a little under the radar."

Last year, Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko flew through the draw slightly unnoticed to claim a shock first Grand Slam title, and Kontaveit is looking to bring more joy to the Baltic states.

NO HEAD TURNER

I'm not Maria Sharapova, people don't come up to me on the street or anything. Maybe I've been a little under the radar.

ANETT KONTAVEIT, after disposing of Czech Petra Kvitova in straight sets.

"The women's game is so open at the moment, anyone can beat anyone," she said. "You never know."

She will have to be at her best today in her first career meeting against Sloane Stephens, who beat Italian Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.

Stephens herself became a surprise Grand Slam champ last year, winning the US Open 69 days after returning from an 11-month injury lay-off with her ranking at No. 83.

But, like Kontaveit, she does not get stopped on the streets either.

"I normally look like - I wouldn't say a homeless person - but I look like not very presentable," said the American. "Not on purpose, but I'm just very, like, sweats - like I probably have four pairs of these sweats and I just rotate them.

"So I'm that girl. I'm not really recognisable because I always have a hat on and I look kind of crazy. No one approaches me."

Show-stopper Sharapova, absent from the tournament for the last two years after failing a drugs test in 2016, was given the red-carpet treatment by organisers yesterday as they scheduled her on the main Philippe Chatrier court.

The Russian responded by producing one of her best performances since returning from her 15-month ban, crushing sixth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1.

The two-time French Open champion powered 18 winners past her fellow former world No. 1 opponent, with the Czech never threatening any resistance in a match which lasted just 59 minutes.

"I knew I had to play well against a tough opponent," said Sharapova after her first match on Court Philippe Chatrier for three years. "I managed to stay aggressive and I played smart as well."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 03, 2018, with the headline 'Kontaveit upsets Kvitova'. Print Edition | Subscribe