Nature Valley Classic: Ostapenko earns big win over Konta in straight sets 

Jelena Ostapenko
Jelena Ostapenko

Jelena Ostapenko was in great form at a time when she needed to be her best at the Nature Valley Classic. The 2017 Roland Garros champion defeated seventh-seeded Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 on Ann Jones Centre Court at Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club Wednesday, thus reaching her first quarterfinal of the season.

This was the fourth meeting between Ostapenko and Konta, with the Brit having won two out of the previous three. Both had good wins in the opening round, making this an intriguing battle for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Ostapenko was the first to make a move as she timed her shots well to get a jump on Konta. The Brit tried to answer back, saving three break points, but at deuce she was outplayed which gave the Latvian the early lead.

The same result occurred on Konta's return game where she couldn’t get enough balls back in play. Ostapenko ran off to a 3-0 lead and looked primed to march her way to the set.

The Latvian made some mistakes on the return, giving Konta her first service hold, but the margin remained three as the 22-year-old held to make it 4-1. The Brit then got another game under her belt with a good hold that cut Ostapenko’s lead in half.

With the British number one now in good rhythm, the Latvian had to step up her offense in order to prevent herself from losing too much ground. She held in the seventh to come within one game of taking the set, but couldn't get another break.

Ostapenko let her serve speak for itself and reached three set points before putting away a winner to end the set in 33 minutes. There wasn’t much wrong with the Brit’s game in the set but the momentum that Ostapenko got out of the gate was too much to overcome.

The 27-year-old opened the second stanza with what looked to be a comfortable service hold, but she took her foot off the gas to give another break chance to Ostapenko. She managed to counter Ostapenko's return to get out of the woods, but Ostapenko held serve in the second game and then got another opportunity to break, which she took this time.

Consolidating in the fourth game gave the Latvian a two-game buffer, but the Brit was good on serve in the fifth to keep her in touch. Ostapenko tumbled in the sixth with two double faults that opened the door for Konta, and just like that things were back on level terms.

But Konta's serve faltered again in the seventh to give the lead back to the 22-year-old. She then had a conference with her coach during the break, where the conversation was just a strategy adjustment since her game was doing fine on the court.

A change of racket by Ostapenko led to a great service hold in the eighth, putting her within one game of clinching the match. The Brit put enough depth in her game to hold in the ninth, but then faced a point of no return with Ostapenko serving for the match.

Despite serving a double fault in the 10th game, the 22-year-old rallied to reach match point on a down-the-line error from Konta. On the second serve, Ostapenko finished the day by eliciting another error from the Brit to score a huge win in 1 hour and 19 minutes.

“It’s a great win and to play against Johanna who is a great player,” Ostapenko said during her on-court interview. “She’s playing very well on grass since playing to the semis of the French Open. For me, it was tough this season struggling to play after my injury but I’m really happy that it’s my second time winning two matches in a row.”

Ostapenko had 23 winners but nearly matched them with 24 unforced errors, which included eight double faults. Still, she has much to be pleased about, and now goes into Thursday’s match awaiting the winner between Margarita Gasparyan and Petra Martic.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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