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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Anett Kontaveit

Qualifier Anett Kontaveit cracked 32 winners crushing world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 6-0, in 56 minutes in Rome.

Photo credit: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix

Staring at the back wall, world No. 1 Angelique Kerber tugged on her pony tail, straightened her visor then turned to confront the onslaught the left her game looking disheveled.

Qualifier Anett Kontaveit blew through 10 consecutive games crushing Kerber, 6-4, 6-0, to roll into the Rome round of 16.

More: No Roland Garros Wild Card For Sharapova

It was Kontaveit’s first career Top-5 victory and it came in stunning style.

The 68th-ranked Estonian put on a shot-making display during her eight-game spree battering Kerber into defensive positions. Kontaveit cracked 25 more winners—32 to 7—than Kerber.

It was Kerber’s first match since she suffered a left hamstring injury that forced her to retire from the Madrid Open while trailing Genie Bouchard, 6-3, 5-0, last week.

That loss left Kerber, who fell in the 2016 French Open first round, bluntly realistic about her clay-court aspirations. 

"Yeah, I mean, clay, it's actually not my best surface," Kerber said in Madrid. "I have no expectation any more on this surface. I mean, there are two more tournaments for me, I hope. We will see what's happen next week. First of all I will try to get healthy again and be really 100 percent fit to going on court again."

While Kerber’s court coverage did not appear dramatically diminished, the top seed was powerless to stop the stream of winners emanating from the racquet of her 21-year-old opponent.

The two-time Grand Slam champion broke serve in the fifth game then backed up the break for a 4-2 lead.

That was the last game Kerber won.

Amping up her aggression and depth of her drives, Kontaveit showed disdain for Kerber’s serve winning 21 of the 38 points on the left-handed German’s first serve and converting five of eight break points.

It was the second time in a month Kontaveit has conquered a reigning Grand Slam champion. She defeated GarbiƱe Muguruza 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-1, en route to the Stuttgart quarterfinals last month.

A two-game run turned today’s match completely in Kontaveit’s favor.

Hitting heavy forehand returns, Kontaveit broke back at love in the eighth game. She tore through eight of nine points seizing a 5-4 lead.
B Taking the first strike in crucial rallies, Kontaveit cracked a forehand winner for set point. When Kerber scattered an inside-out forehand wide, Kontaveit had her fourth consecutive game and the opening set.

Kontaveit hammered six times as many winners (19 to 3) in the opening set forcing Kerber to scrape defensive shots out of the corners.

Whipping her forehand with damaging intent, Kontaveit drew an error breaking for the third time in a row to impose a 2-0 second-set lead.

Kontaveit held at 15 for 3-0 and never looked back.

When Kerber missed one final forehand down the line, Kontaveit thrust her arms in triumph rolling into a round of 16 meeting with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

The 16th-seeded Lucic-Baroni was trailing former Rome champion Maria Sharapova, 2-1 in the third set yesterday when Sharapova retired due to a left thigh injury.

The 35-year-old Lucic-Baronoi will face Kontaveit for the first time.


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