WTA Brisbane: Sasnovich upset Svitolina, Kvitova and Bertens crash out

Sasnovich completes her first top 5 victory in a rematch of last year's final. She will face Vekic, who beat Bertens, in the quarterfinals

by Alessandro Mastroluca
WTA Brisbane: Sasnovich upset Svitolina, Kvitova and Bertens crash out

Anette Kontaveit paid tribute to trail-blazing compatriot Kaia Kanepi as she stunned 7-5 7-6 the 2011 champion Petra Kvitova to clinch her ninth top 10 career victory. Her unheralded compatriot claimed the Brisbane International crown seven years ago and she followed in her idol’s footsteps after booking a quarter-final clash with Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich avenged last year's defeat in the final as she upset No.1 seed Elina Svitolina, playing her first match since winning biggest career title at WTA Finals, 6-4 0-6 6-3. “We’re a really small country,” Kontaveit said.

“Kaia has led the way for me. She won this tournament a few years ago – she’s shown that you can make it in tennis.” Kontaveit, who celebrated her 80th main draw victory, fought back from 5-2 down in the second set to force a tiebreak, where she dominated the proceedings with her powerful groundstrokes and her instinct for an aggressive game.

Ranked at career-high No.20, Kontaveit will face Tsurenko for the third time. The Ukrainian, owning a 12-5 record in the tournament (qualifying rounds included), beat her in Guangzhou in 2016 but Kontaveit defeated her next opponent in 2017 in the semifinals in 's-Hertogenbosch en route to her first career singles title.

There were no such troubles for another Czech former Brisbane champion, Karolina Pliskova. The 2017 winner won 77 percent of first serve points and fired three aces to beat her compatriot and qualifier Marie Bouzkova, 7-5 6-2.

She now awaits Ajla Tomljanovic who beat Johanna Konta 6-2 7-6 (7-2). Tomljanovic lost to Konta at last year's event but this time she dominated the opening set and built a 4-0 lead in the second before the British number one fought back.

Konta broke to lead 6-5 but her opponent broke straight back to force the tie-break, which she swept through. Pliskova and Tomljanovic, who's 0-5 in the last five top 10 clashes, are tied at 1-1 in their head to heads. In a see-saw encounter, Croatian Donna Vekic staged a dramatic comeback before a packed Show Court 1 as she ousted No.6 seed Kiki Bertens 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-5.

“It was a great match, we both fought until the last point,” she said after her sixth Top 10 career victory. “I save two match points and I’m really proud of that. It’s a really good win for me.

Most importantly, I’ve never played well in the first week of the year so I’m really happy that I’ve already found good form.” Bertens held two match points on serve at 5-4 in the third set, but the Croatian drilled two of her best returns to dictate the points and turn the tables.

The Dutch, inconsistent throughout the match off the backhand side, lacked her usually brilliant shot selection and gifted the win with a weak mistake. Vekic set a quarter-final with 2018 runner-up Sasnovich who collected her maiden top 5 career victory.

Last year, she became the first qualifier to reach the final here, losing to today’s opponent Svitolina. During that run, she recovered from 6-3 4-2 down to defeat Monova in the final qualifying match, before upsetting No.11
Mladenovic and No.16 Sevastova.

Since then, she rose nearly 60 places in the rankings over the past 12 months, currently residing at career-high No.30. Sasnovich, who began the season by breaking 17-year-old qualifier Potapova five times on Tuesday, claimed her fourth career top 10 victory.

No.8 seed Anastasija Sevastova cruised into the quarter-finals with a second-round thrashing of British qualifier Harriet Dart, who started the match showing a streak of fluid backhand winners. The Latvian won ten games in a row from 2-2 in the opening set to book a last-eight clash with second seed and reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka.

WTA Brisbane - Second round
Anett Kontaveit (EST) d. [4] Petra Kvitova (CZE) 7-5, 7-6(1)
Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) d. [1] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-4, 0-6, 6-3
[8] Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) d. [Q] Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-2, 6-0
Donna Vekic (CRO) d. [6] Kiki Bertens 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) d. Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-2 7-6(2)  
[5] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. [Q] Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 7-5, 6-2

Wta Brisbane