Jelena Ostapenko put up one of the best performances of her season and beyond at the Qatar Total Open on Tuesday. Despite some heavy competition from Czech star Barbora Strycova, the Latvian scored a 6-1, 6-2 win on court two at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex.
The two met back in Wuhan where the former French Open champion took it the full distance with Strycova losing out in three sets in the second round. Both went three sets in their opening round match to cross paths with Ostapenko needing to limit her double faults. Strycova hadn’t been able to go deep in tournaments this year. A clean slate gave her a chance to even the series with the 22-year-old.
The match began with a tough battle, as Ostapenko earned a break point but failed to clinch it, forcing deuce. The tug of war for the AD point was on as they each had their chances in consecutive opportunities, but got into trouble. After eight breaks and 21 points played, the Latvian ended the first securing her seventh break point chance. Ostapenko managed to prevent Strycova from getting into her service game, allowing a single point on her serve.
The 33-year-old faced challenges on serve in the third, letting game point slip away to bring the Latvian to deuce. She killed off an AD point for Strycova, making it 3-0 with her signature aggression that was paying off. Despite being forced to deuce herself, Ostapenko rallied on winning her fourth straight against the Czech in what was a major improvement to her game.
Despite being down a double break, Strycova got on the board with a hold to love in the fifth. Unfortunately, that was all she would attain as the confidence level of her opponent was too high. Ostapenko recorded another strong service game, fighting for set points in the seventh ending a successful first in 38 minutes. The Latvian only had one double fault through seven games, but the biggest damage came from her serve which overall was above average.
The second saw Ostapenko lead off with a terrific service game that remained better than her opponent, whose struggles continued. Though she saved four breakpoints and held serve, the vulnerabilities in her game were apparent to the opposition. The holds of serve lasted five games, with the Latvian gaining a two-game lead in the sixth. With a break in hand, the 22-year-old held on with difficulty on serve in the seventh before scoring the double break and the win with a break to love.
Her attacks on Strycova’s return game were the finishing touch to one of the best performances by Ostapenko as she wrapped it up in 1 hour and 18 minutes. It was obvious that her work with tennis legend Marion Bartoli was paying off as she made the round of 16 for a second consecutive year.