Elina Svitolina vs Anett Kontaveit live streaming, preview and tips: Can the powerful Kontaveit end Svitolina’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia title defense?

Hannah Wilks in WTA 18 May 2018
  • Elina Svitolina faces Anett Kotaveit in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Saturday
  • Svitolina vs Kontaveit Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome on Saturday at 12pm local/11am BST
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 
Elina Svitolina (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Elina Svitolina is just one win away from returning to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final as she takes on powerful Anett Kontaveit in Rome.

Elina Svitolina vs Anett Kontaveit Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is streamed live from Rome on Saturday at 12pm local/11am BST (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify). Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Can Anett Kontaveit score a third straight win over a top-10 player and end Elina Svitolina’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia title defense in the Rome semifinals on Saturday?

Thus far, Elina Svitolina’s approach to defending her Internazionali BNL d’Italia title has been quietly self-assured and impressive. The transition from breakthrough player to established star is a tricky one, but the Ukrainian has been making it look easy in 2018, at least when it comes to defending titles; she already backed up her 2017 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title by reclaiming the trophy 12 months later, and she is just two wins away now from doing the same thing in Rome. 

Svitolina’s run to the title in 2017 was a fairly dazzling one, which included wins over Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza (via retirement) and Simona Halep. This year, things have been a bit more routine so far, although by no means easy. Seeded fourth, Svitolina had a bye into the second round where she beat Petra Martic in straight sets before encountering her first check in a third-round battle with Indian Wells runner-up Daria Kasatkina, who took the first set 6-0 before Svitolina recovered to stay unbeaten against the Russian.

Friday’s quarterfinal against the resurgent Angelique Kerber saw another slow start from Svitolina against a player she’s established a dominant record against. While the overall head-to-head coming into the match was a fairly narrow 7-5 in Svitolina’s favour, the Ukrainian had won the last five between them and clay is a considerably better surface for her than the German. It showed: While Svitolina trailed 2-4 early, she didn’t have too much trouble in turning things around, reeling off the final four games of the first set to lead 6-4. In the second set, Svitolina was breaking Kerber’s serve with ease and while the German broke back twice, the left-hander’s serve was simply too brittle and Svitolina took advantage of a crop of double faults to take a decisive advantage. 

In the end, Svitolina’s more aggressive approach – something she has been working on over the past 18 months, and a crucial factor in turning around her head-to-head against Kerber as well as in her rise up the rankings more generally – was the difference, ending the match with 26 winners and 25 unforced errors. The numbers show her willingness to be the more attacking player in a match between two players with fundamentally counterpunching games, and it secured her a return to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinals.

‘It was a good match. I had to really step up and play really aggressive in important moments,’ Svitolina said afterwards. ‘That's what was the key for today. I played really good on the important points. That's what made a difference.’


Anett Kontaveit (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) 
Svitolina faces an entirely different challenge in the semifinals as she takes on Anett Kontaveit, the rising Estonian who has again chosen the clay-court season to make a case for her credentials as a real potential force in the game. 

Although she is also a potent force on grass and on hard courts – she won her first WTA Tour title on grass in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last year – it was during the clay season in 2017 that Kontaveit first made a real impression with her wins over Garbine Muguruza in Stuttgart and Kerber in Rome to reach the quarterfinals of both events. Although the Estonian had a good Australian Open, beating Jelena Ostapenko to reach the fourth round, she won just one match in her next five events until the European clay season rolled round again – and Kontaveit once more came to life, first of all reaching the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, then beating Venus Williams in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open before suffering a narrow defeat to eventual champion Petra Kvitova in the round of 16. 

Kontaveit’s formidable form has continued in Rome where she has reached the semifinals of the Pemier-5 event without dropping a set in victories over Coco Vandeweghe, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams (again) and finally Caroline Wozniacki, avenging her defeat to the Dane from a winning position at Wimbledon last year with a 6-3, 6-1 win which effectively ended Wozniacki’s hopes of reclaiming the world no. 1 ranking next week. Kontaveit’s win over Wozniacki was particularly impressive, because unlike Vandeweghe, Kuznetsova and Williams – big-hitting players against whom Kontaveit could trade first-strike blows – the Dane’s defensive, counterpunching game makes her an uncomfortable opponent for a player who relies on power and aggression. It also leaves Wozniacki vulnerable to playing the role of punching bag against an opponent like Kontaveit when the more powerful player is feeling confident, and that’s exactly what happened today as the Estonian broke the Dane’s serve six times and hit 23 winners to 14 unforced errors.

The question now is whether Kontaveit can deliver a similarly devastating performance when she takes the court against Svitolina on Saturday – and what, if anything, the defending champion can do to stop her if she does. Kontaveit really has been playing superlative tennis this week and was dazzling against Venus Williams, but she will have to be at least as good as she was against Wozniacki to handle Svitolina, who will force her to hit so many balls with such depth, pace and accuracy. Svitolina, a better mover on clay than Wozniacki and – this week at least – better than transitioning forward into the court to find ways to dictate play, will find a multitude of ways to test Kontaveit and expose any nerves or doubts she might be harbouring. Ultimately, though, it’s on the Estonian’s racquet and I think the rich vein of confidence she’s tapped into might carry her through one more big win at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.


Svitolina vs Kontaveit Internazionali BNL d’Italia tennis is live from Rome on Saturday at 12pm local/11am BST. Watch and bet on the match at bet365 > live streaming > tennis > Elina Svitolina vs Anett Kontaveit (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 


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Elina Svitolina vs Anett Kontaveit live streaming, preview and tips: Can the powerful Kontaveit end Svitolina’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia title defense?

Elina Svitolina vs Anett Kontaveit live streaming, preview and tips for the WTA Rome Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinal match on Saturday 19 May 2018: Kontaveit has beaten five top-10 players in 2018 – can she make Svitolina victim no. 6? We preview the match and show you how you can watch the match live and bet in-play.

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