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Jelena Ostapenko puts away Mihaela Buzarnescu at the Nature Valley International

Rudy Martinez
115   //    27 Jun 2018, 22:50 IST

Nature Valley International - Day Four - Devonshire Park
The Latvian had a strong game against Mihaela Buzarnescu to reach the quarterfinals

Jelena Ostapenko achieved a first at the Nature Valley International on Wednesday. The Latvian had a strong game against Mihaela Buzarnescu to reach the quarterfinals in a 6-1, 6-2 straight sets win on Court 1 at Devonshire Park.

A left shoulder injury that took a major toll on Buzarnescu’s game was the reason for her demise after showing such power on the grass courts so far this season.

The Romanian had been on an absolute tear of recent taking down players with serious skill and tenacity to get out of trouble and come out on top.

Though she’s played six consecutive matches so far at Eastbourne, the world No. 28 was ready to attempt getting a second win against the high ranked Latvian.

She defeated Ostapenko earlier this season at Doha but would see the talent of her opponent’s grass court tactics.

The aggressive style from the 21-year-old had her coming out fiercely against Kaia Kanepi winning in straight sets despite some serious opposition from the Estonian.

With a tough competition out of the way, the world No. 12 was ready for an even bigger challenge to level the series with Buzarnescu.

She opened with a big response in the opening game and somehow turned the second game into her favor to break the Romanian.

Ostapenko was already having some problems with the serve double faulting early in the set but maintained some focus to get out of a jam. The 21-year-old made it 3-1 with a break to consolidate that with another hold in the fifth.


The Latvian was on a run while Buzarnescu showed some struggle and before the seventh made the call for the trainer during the break of sets.

After losing the set 6-1 in 24 minutes, the Romanian took a medical timeout for a left shoulder problem. It was clear that it held her back recording 11 unforced errors in that time.

When the physiotherapist completed her task, it looked as if the shoulder was fixed for the Romanian to serve from it.

She capped the opening game with a hold of Ostapenko giving a sigh of relief to her supporters. After the Latvian took a 2-1 lead, Buzarnescu called for the trainer to take another look at her shoulder with quickly bothered her again.

While there was no chance for a second medical timeout, she had to play on which only gave the 21-year-old plenty of breathing room to conduct the set. She edged out to a 4-1 lead looking very comfortable and keep the pace high enough to get through the last two wins needed.

She watched the 30-year-old get a break in the sixth before attaining a 5-2 lead to serve for the match. Ostapenko had some jitters on the service game for the match but an ace to get match point was faltered by herself forcing deuce for the Romanian.

It wouldn’t take her long to recover as the first AD point in hand for the 21-year-old ended the day after just over an hour.

“It was not a bad match for me,” Ostapenko said during her on-court interview. “I think I played really well and served well.

There were some moments where she was tough because she is very solid and not missing anything so I had to play aggressively but I’m really pleased with the game I’ve played today.”

She’ll face Agnieszka Radwanska in Thursday’s match in what was their second meeting this season. “I know how she’s playing,” Ostapenko said about her next opponent. “I know it’s going to be a tough match, but I’m gonna prepare for it.”

What did you think about Ostapenko's performance? Sound off your opinion in the comments section below!

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Rudy Martinez
A writer with eight years experience in sportswriting. He specializes in the National Hockey League, WTA Tennis and both summer and winter Olympic sports.
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