Linz Open 2019: Jelena Ostapenko earns strong victory over Elena Rybakina in straight sets
Jelena Ostapenko had her confidence lifted at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz Open on Friday evening. Problems from her opponent Elena Rybakina were enough to keep Ostapenko's game from getting out of hand as she went on to win in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1, on centre court at the Tips Arena.
After a sudden ending to her second round contest against Alize Cornet, the Latvian inched closer to the title with a premiere meeting against Rybakina. The 20-year-old went the distance against Anna-Lena Friedsam on Thursday, overcoming a close defeat in the second set.
As each tended to show vulnerabilities on the service, the 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko needed to keep them locked down to comfortably make Saturday's semi-final where she will face Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Both served to love through the first two games with Rybakina making the statement to her higher-ranked opponent. She gave up a 40-15 situation that went to deuce but managed to get an advantage and hold serve.
Staying neck and neck with Ostapenko, the Kazak reached a breakpoint in the third game only to deny herself the victory. The Latvian held in the fourth game despite committing her first double fault of the match.
Ostapenko chose to call down coach Marion Bartoli to help her stay in check as the competition got intense. At the end of the changeover, they continued to hold serve through six games until the 22-year-old scratched out a break in the seventh.
She gave up ground on serve enough for Rybakina to keep level with the break back. A second serve to love by the 20-year-old put pressure on the Latvian to falter.Ostapenko held her nerves in the tenth game to give a grand stand finish to the first set.
An important break gave Ostapenko time to set up a good service for a double set point. One got away from her on a fourth double fault but drawing an error sealed the deal for the 22-year-old in 40 minutes. Despite serving at 49 percent, she nailed 15 of 18 serves from it and having a solid second serve did a number on Rybakina.
Rybakina opened the second set with a comfortable hold enabling a cross-court rally with a line drive at times. Ostapenko answered with a hold and went for the break in the third where despite losing two breakpoints, won on the second break of deuce.
A 4-1 score in favor of the Latvian had he close to winning the match with the 20-year-old struggling to turn the set around. Easy mistakes were made by Rybakina who gave up a fifth consecutive game to Ostapenko, allowing the Latvian to play for the match in the seventh game.
The world number 42 gave the Ostapenko three-match points before having her tournament come to a close with a line drive shot to conclude 1 hour and 12 minutes of play.