Porsche Tennis Grand Prix: Sevastova edges out Ostapenko with a three-set win

Anastasija Sevastova
Anastasija Sevastova
Rudy Martinez

A lopsided match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix ended with Anastasija Sevastova taking a first-round win on Tuesday. Her battle with Latvian counterpart Jelena Ostapenko saw one-sided comfort switch dramatically at the end of the second set that gave the seventh seed a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 win to advance to the second round. In what was their first official meeting that occurred at the Porsche Arena, it was an unforgettable three-set contest. It handed the 21-year-old her third straight WTA loss and fifth overall.

This was the first match between the two Latvians and a key one with both on brief slides. Ostapenko's transition into clay hasn't been smooth and she lost in both Charleston and Bogota earlier this month.

With the GP in her sights, the 21-year-old didn’t do well playing at the Fed Cup hoping that she could prove her worth. Sevastova has yet to secure a win on clay as well but with only a match under her belt so far, getting the edge of her compatriot was essential for making her return after a three-week break.

She matched Ostapenko to begin the set, scoring the same result to get on the right track. She secured a break in the third and widened the gap to two with a hold. Ostapenko avoided giving her opponent a double break in the fifth and called down her coach to figure out what to adjust going forward. The strategy never came to fruition as Sevastova was running a one-way traffic with a hold and secured the double break after the seventh game.

Serving for the set, the 29-year-old kept her composure running alongside Ostapenko. The 21-year-old knew she was in trouble as the seventh seed gained a set point to close out the first in 36 minutes. While there were a lot of good moments from the young Latvian, she had too many errors coming from her end that gave Sevastova the level of comfort to stand ahead in the match, despite serving below 60 percent.

It proved to be a problem going into the second set as Ostapenko found her range to score a serve to love and got a key break of the seventh seed. With a three-game winning streak to the 21-year-old, Sevastova smartly called for her coach Ronald Schmidt to come out and give her pointers on what to change and get back control over her opponent. Ostapenko gained a 5-0 gap on Sevastova who saw a third set in her view but would try to avoid it at all costs.

With a serve to stay alive, Sevastova held off Ostapenko to avoid the bagel and keep hopes high. The seventh game was a real battle as Ostapenko had two set points but erred to slip up and find herself at deuce. The 21-year-old saved three break points but not the fourth that added a second game to Sevastova. Krisjanis Stabins was called down by the young Latvian who was told to answer well and create moments of clarity to end the set her way.

A huge serve to love cut the margin down to a pair for the seventh seed in what was nearly a clear end to the second set. Double faults from Ostapenko in the ninth game were a massive downfall as she opened the door to allow Sevastova to recover all the lost ground. The 29-year-old served for the tie in the tenth game but had two double faults that brought a silver lining for the 21-year-old.

With another set point, Ostapenko saw her troubles end after a wide return from Sevastova set up a decider after 42 minutes. It was clearly a lopsided result that neither had wished to be a part of as their first serves were below par and each had four double faults which affected the critical moments of the set.

With the third becoming so important for both, it came down to who would handle the situation better. Sevastova was the first to act by taking a break from Ostapenko and consolidating it with a hold. It again became a full court press for the 29-year-old as she was determined to bring an end to her compatriot's challenge by any means.

A triple break of the former French Open champion gave Sevastova a 5-0 hold with the shot to serve for the match. She was finding it more than easy as three match points were in the hands of the seventh seed who ended the match when a return from Ostapenko landed long. Sevastova took the win in 1 hour and 49 minutes that was played quickly for two players who know each other’s games very well. The 29-year-old would move on to face the winner between German hopeful Laura Siegemund and Lesia Tsurenko in the second round.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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