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Rome Masters: Ostapenko wins over Konta in  3 sets

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
Feature
196   //    17 May 2018, 22:06 IST

The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2018 - Day Five
Jelena Ostapenko clenches her fist after winning a game against Johanna Konta at the Italian Open

Jelena Ostapenko overturned a bad opening set into victory at the BNL Internazionali d’Italia Thursday. The fifth seed played through some moments of dizziness to defeat Johanna Konta in three sets 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Corte Pietrangeli at Foro Italico. The win gave the Latvian a new personal best getting through the round of 16.

The series was in the hands of the Brit who only played the Latvian twice on different surfaces each time. With that in mind for the birthday girl turning 27, her present of facing the defending French Open champion didn’t look to be a pleasing gift.

In her opening round Tuesday, the 20-year-old flew through Shuai Zhang in straight sets to prepare for a fight into the coveted quarterfinals, something she had yet to achieve in the tournament. A win for Ostapenko would more than likely spoil the party plans of the British number one.

Konta opened with a break of serve following by holding for a 2-0 lead. The world number six rallied to get on the board in the third but couldn’t break Konta to level the score. She still found herself two games back in the fourth.

The gap seemed to be enough for the Brit to get into a comfortable position on the court making things difficult for the 20-year-old. It was soon 5-1 for Konta who again made good of her serve putting the pressure on Ostapenko to stay alive on her own terms.

She had a chance to cleanly getting through her game in the seventh but an unforced error brought Konta to deuce. The draw ended with Ostapenko getting the advantage point to hold firm and make her march back.

Konta didn’t feel the same about her opponent’s pressure to stay alive and achieved set points in the eighth to close out the set in 35 minutes. Ostapenko had a dismal first serve percentage landing five of eight and 2 of 15 on the returns.

In an effort to rally her way into the second set, the fifth seed won her opening serve over Konta. Ostapenko battled for control in the next game where she and the Brit went four breaks but a mistake on her end gave Konta the win.

Despite letting out some frustration between games, the Latvian held again in the third gaining some confidence in her skills to play forward with patience. She got the break she wanted over Konta taking a 3-1 stance in the set with every notion to even the set.

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She held her own serve twice that gave her a 5-2 hold over Konta eyeing the chance for a deciding set. After the Brit won her serve in the eighth, Ostapenko put together a final service in the second set that got her level in the match after 45 minutes. It was a huge improvement on her first serves winning 81 percent of first serve points and 14 winners.

Maintaining a minimal amount of errors gave Ostapenko newfound life to make something of the final set with Konta right where she wanted her.

The dictation of the Latvian began with a 2-0 hold that woke up Konta to respond thereafter. She tried to call for her coach to come on the court but was warned by the umpire of sanctions as she noticed his intention to come onto court which was against the rules.

Despite the mistake, she bounced back to level the score for a moment before Ostapenko regained the lead. After the seventh game, the margin was just a game with the Latvian still out front.

She held off the breakpoint threats from Konta in the eighth that put the fifth seed in position to play for the match. Konta denied her another opportunity to break her game scoring a serve to love but couldn’t hold her off in the next game.

Ostapenko held firm in the ninth allowing Konta two points before capping the match point ending 2 hours and 13 minutes on the court. With the first serve back in fine form, Ostapenko will have to hope for control facing the winner between Daria Gavrilova and Maria Sharapova on Friday. 

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Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
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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