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Anett Kontaveit (left), Ons Jabeur and Karolina Pliskova during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA Draw at Majilis at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Saturday. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Dubai: Australian Open quarter-finalist Anett Kontaveit wants to lay a marker for herself and for her country as she targets a top-10 finish on the WTA Rankings by the end of this season.

Winner of one WTA title, the 24-year-old Estonian achieved a great feat when she became the first player either male or female from her country to reach a Grand Slam quarter-finals at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Kontaveit lost to Simona Halep in under an hour in Melbourne, but that performance helped her move up nine places in the WTA rankings to her current No 22.

“My current goal is to be in the top-10,” Kontaveit told media at the draw ceremony of the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open, on Saturday.

“And to achieve this goal it will have to be a really amazing year for me. There are a lot of girls in the top-30 or in the top-50 who are playing a real good level of tennis. I think I know I need to have the edge and compete a little better and try and remain a bit tougher especially in the difficult situations,” she related.

Kontaveit’s campaign in Dubai will commence only on Tuesday after she was drawn to play one of the six qualifiers coming through. “The confidence level is high no doubt. But one rarely gets the chance to really allow it to sink in. One tournament is over and the new one comes straight away, so we have to start building up every week,” she admitted.

“But the quarter-finals in Australia definitely gave me a huge dose of confidence. Let’s wait and see what this week has to hold,” Kontaveit added.

After turning professional in 2010, Kontaveit achieved a career-high No 14 in April last year. However, she struggled towards the end of last season after being felled by a viral illness that forced her to withdraw from several tournaments, including the US Open. But her ranking was already one spot better than countrywoman Kaia Kanepi’s No. 15 way back in August 2012.

“Health was a bit of a concern to me at the end of 2019. I hadn’t been in this situation before and I didn’t know how it would go. I didn’t know how soon I would be able to come back. But I managed to get over it quite quickly and actually felt pretty well during pre-season. I knew all the hard work would pay off,” she related.

“I didn’t do anything in particular. I have simply gone ahead and done the exact same thing that I have been doing for the past few years. I’ve had the same coach [Nigel Sears] for a few years now, and we are constantly working on the same things with the belief that all the hard will pay off,” Kontaveit added.