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Porsche Tennis Grand Prix: Anett Kontaveit makes it to the semifinals after Victoria Azarenka retires

The Estonian who had to pull out all the stops against Victoria Azarenka in the second set got the pass in the third with a 5-7, 7-5, 3-0 score
The Estonian who had to pull out all the stops against Victoria Azarenka in the second set got the pass in the third with a 5-7, 7-5, 3-0 score
Rudy Martinez
ANALYST

Anett Kontaveit got into Saturday’s semifinal but not the way she wanted to finish the match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Friday night.

The Estonian who had to pull out all the stops against Victoria Azarenka in the second set got the pass in the third with a 5-7, 7-5, 3-0 score on center court at the Porsche Arena. The Belorussian retired from action due to a right upper body muscle pain. 

The Belorussian had a challenging match against Karolina Pliskova but the effort from her end and the Czech’s weakness on clay allowed the 29-year-old to advance.

It was just the result she needed to attempt to match her success in Monterrey earlier this month. Kontaveit had yet to drop a set and with two wins over Garcia and Pavlyuchenkova, the World No. 15 had a great chance at producing tough times on court.

Azarenka’s history on clay hasn’t been the strongest which gave the Estonian opportunities in their first meeting on the surface.

Azarenka started off cold committing a double fault on her opening serve but made sure to secure the second after Kontaveit’s strong opener.

The eighth seed led the way through four with Azarenka struggling to make a statement with her offense. The Estonian waited for her moment to overtake in the fifth but her opponent was unwilling to let her serve go.

After ten and a half minutes in the sixth that saw them go six breaks, Azarenka saved three break point attempts to hold the score at three all.

With the chance for the break slipping away, Kontaveit blazed through her serve in the seventh blanking the former World No.1.

She then took a conference with coach Nigel Sears who told her to work her shots to the body of her opponent and cause more difficulty and avoid giving Azarenka easy moments. She continued to answer the eighth seed through eight games with one sure to take it.

Before the ability to secure the set became possible, the Belorussian made a push after the tenth to force a break chance against Kontaveit.

She gained two opportunities but lost all of them due to a bad second serve. Kontaveit scored a great point on a short lob but went back to deuce putting too much on the next return. The 29-year-old gained a third break point from it and got it on a fine return to lead 6-5.

The effort put in to her defense revved up her offense which produced a solid win to take the set in the 12th ending 55 minutes of a tight set. She had 11 winners and the serve percentage slightly better than Kontaveit but keeping the consistency would be key for her to dominate.

The forehand of the Estonian’s was still in trouble at the start of the second set where she erred twice and double faulted handing Azarenka break points. The second serve came in the clutch for the Belorussian during the rally of the final point to clinch the break.

She consolidated the break with a hold in the second that had the 23-year-old losing confidence. During the break she called down Sears who told her to get some fight and positivity despite her response that she wasn’t.

The fourth was a key moment for her to gain both as she managed to break Azarenka with the double. The Belorussian broke back in the fifth that again followed a third straight break with Kontaveit leveling.

Azarenka answered back capturing the double break on the eighth seed gaining three break points which the last one held for the 4-3 lead.

She knew her game was in fine form and capable of taking care of the rest of the match. With her signature style of winners for points, the 29-year-old allowed Kontaveit just one point before playing for a spot in the semis in the ninth.

The Estonian was not giving in on serve and forced Azarenka to do it herself. A double fault and an error nearly had Kontaveit back in but a key point for her forced deuce.

A bad beat for the Belorussian came when the Estonian’s return went off the net and landed inside Azarenka’s court. It opened the door for her on the AD point to notch game point with a terrific line drive to force the set deep.

She gained a chance to go ahead 6-5 but errors cost her every point bringing the Belorussian to deuce. Kontaveit saved the game scoring back to back cross court winners to achieve her position.

Azarenka was seeing the decider come on the horizon but saved her serve to force deuce for a shot at a tiebreak. Kontaveit denied her that chance as she locked down the break point to go the distance in the match after 53 minutes. Azarenka had clearly been taken for a run as her second serve suffered with 6 of 16 coming from it.

There was more going on as the third set got underway with Kontaveit up 2-0 in the third. The Belorussian called the physio for a check on her muscles near the right shoulder blade that was causing her problems.

Taking a medical timeout that lasted six minutes, the match continued with Kontaveit serving a break up. She made it 3-0 with the 29 year old once again calling out the physio to concentrate on her muscle pain that made it very hard to answer the Estonian’s serve.

The fourth was all said and done for the former world number one as it was too much to deal with calling it a match after two points ending two hours and nine minutes.

While it still counted as a hard fought victory, she would look for another against World No.1 Naomi Osaka to attempt make it into her first final of the season.

Edited by Alan John
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