PARIS: Anett Kontaveit continued her progression at the French Open “under the radar”, after delighting her small army of Estonian fans by dumping out eighth seed Petra Kvitova to reach the last 16 for the first time on Saturday.
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 and will face 10th seed Sloane Stephens on Sunday.
Kontaveit’s run at Roland Garros follows an excellent clay-court season which has seen her rise to a career-high ranking of 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. Maybe I’ve been a little under the radar,” she said.
Kontaveit, who beat Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki at the Italian Open last month, said an illness before the tournament had left her unsure if she would be able to play at her best.
“I wasn’t feeling great before my first-round match here, I had some kind of small virus, so I didn’t know what to expect.
“Even before the first round I didn’t know how I would feel and how it was going to go.”
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.
“The women’s game is so open at the moment, anyone can beat anyone,” she said.
“You never know. I’m going to take it match by match and we’ll see. Of course we’re all hoping to win the title here.”
Kontaveit caused a big shock with the manner in which she cruised past world number two and Australian Open champion Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 in the Rome quarter-finals, and they could meet in the last eight again in Paris.
But first she will have to be at her best to down reigning US Open champion Stephens, who beat Italian Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.
“I’ve never played against her… But I’ll just go out there and fight again, I’ll have nothing to lose tomorrow,” she added.
It was an erratic display from Kvitova, though, as she made 57 unforced errors and served 10 double faults.
“I tried everything that I could,” said the Czech.
“I really left everything there. I’m pretty tired, I know. But pretty proud how I fought. And even though I didn’t play great tennis today, I was still there trying.”