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US Open: Ostapenko wins by a thread over Petkovic

Rudy Martinez
ANALYST
News
235   //    29 Aug 2018, 00:44 IST

2018 US Open - Day 2
2018 US Open - Day 2

Jelena Ostapenko won by the skin of her teeth at the US Open on Tuesday afternoon. In a battle with Andrea Petkovic that went both ways ended with the Latvian getting the key point that allowed her to defeat the German 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 at Louis Armstrong Stadium at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center. 190 points were split between the two in what was a physical battle in near 100-degree heat.

The two haven’t met since 2016 where the Latvian won a tight opening set in Doha before getting the win on a sudden retirement by Petkovic. With that unlikely to happen again, the two stars of the sport made their second meeting count with both needing a huge win to begin their tournament.

Ostapenko hasn’t had much luck since the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, losing in the opening rounds at Montreal and Cincinnati. Petkovic got plenty of time in Washington but that and the stints in Ohio and Connecticut didn’t pan out to much. With both struggling to find their true niche on the hard courts, the stage would be set for one of them to dictate the way they wished.

Petkovic made her mark by blanking the Latvian for the break in the opening game. A double-fault on her service game allowed Ostapenko to get on the board breaking back in the second. With her being able to get into the set, the 21-year-old delivered a strong service game that got her in the groove.

The German reached her comfort level in the fourth showing capability with the service hold. Just when it looked as if Ostapenko would put together some consistency, she double-faulted twice in the fifth game handing Petkovic three set points. The 30-year-old made good of the break but double-faulted on serve to keep Ostapenko who was frustrated with her own game in tow.

The tenth seed had two double faults on serve which played havoc on her trying to use her signature aggression and control. She allowed Petkovic to force deuce but got out of trouble with a key winner that gave her the win. After the eighth, it was clear that Petkovic had an easier time holding serve than the world number 10, having only two double faults thus far.

Ostapenko had the edge on winning more points on the first serve which slowly helped her to adjust to the response of her opponent. She took a 5-4 lead with well-placed shots in the game that helped her offense shape into a strong gameplay. She proved that in the tenth against the German’s serve firing back winners to get three set points before winning on a third double fault from Petkovic that concluded 37 minutes.

Ostapenko finished with 71 percent on the serve with nine winners the majority of which came in the late stages of the set. Those elements took a toll on the 30-year old whose serve percentages fell prior to her being a set down.

The Latvian was thriving on the pace she set for herself that rolled into the second smoothly winning a quick hold. In the last 13 points, Ostapenko won 11 of them while Petkovic had two. The stat may not have been on the mind of the Latvian but very much in the head of the German who saw the tenth seed playing comfortably while she struggled.

Petkovic double-faulted a fourth time giving the 21-year-old break chances to take a 2-0 run. She got back into trouble on serve with a double fault but somehow held to stand alone on the scoreboard.

The temperature was in the mid-90s where finishing games was important for both but more for the world number 10. A necessary hold for Petkovic gave her a chance to recover from the deficit, adding a break in the fifth to sit a game down. She completed the comeback against the Latvian who dropped her momentum completely and was without any room for maneuver. She had to create some for herself in the shape of a hold in the seventh.

Getting a break from Petkovic would be a heavy task as holding on to a chance for a third set was her only option left. She delivered with a serve to love on Ostapenko that made the next couple of games critical.

Ostapenko faulted at the wrong moment recording a ninth double-fault that left the door open for Petkovic to dictate. The German launched big winners on the return that gave her a 5-4 lead to serve for a third set. She had Ostapenko right where she wanted her to be in with the pressure weighing heavily on her to win the set after 39 minutes of action.

The second serve was huge for the German who made the Latvian pay with numerous unforced errors that nearly reached 20. With the heat being a major factor, it left the players with a chance to rest before continuing the match.

When both got enough energy back into themselves, the third got underway with Ostapenko scoring a service hold to start the decider. Petkovic wasn’t so fortunate to get a similar result where she double-faulted in the second losing control. At a point where losing a game in the deciding set was not a good thing, Petkovic somehow found a way to break back on Ostapenko causing her problems that ended the shutout in the third.

The aces were coming together for the 30-year-old in the fourth nailing two before falling 30-40 before a double fault killed her efforts. The Latvian gain confidence with another step in the right direction that assisted in her offensive power from the forehand in the fifth.

She again put too much on the ball that handed free points during Petkovic’s service game needing very little from herself to finish it off. Despite the lost chance at ending the set, Ostapenko managed to keep the pressure on Petkovic during her service to go to a 5-2 hold.

The 30-year-old was in trouble as the nerves produced all the wrong components causing her to fight with desperation. She got out of a jam with Ostapenko erring with a hit in the sun but was once again in a difficult spot facing the Latvian serving for the match.

Petkovic got one against the 21-year-old and made it all the way back to deuce on two hits into the net by Ostapenko. The tenth seed was coming apart at the wrong moment committing an 11th double-fault that became a break for Petkovic to sit a game down from leveling the score.

The 30-year-old still wasn’t out of trouble as a hold would give her more life. Too many hits into the net from Ostapenko made it possible for the 30-year-old to still make this her match to win. She played every point with Ostapenko that led them to deuce with every moment becoming huge for the two.

The tenth seed made her mark to score the 6-5 lead hoping to put an end to Petkovic’s tenacious spirit. It was a battle both refused to give up anything but as Petkovic made another double fault, she did not fall behind making up the mistake to reach game point.

Ostapenko kept things to deuce but couldn’t contain the match point chance she had. It was the fourth match point that the world number ten made count on shot into the net sending a sigh of relief after 2 hours and 18 minutes of match time.

“Today was a very tough match,” Ostapenko said to Andrew Krasny after the match. “Andrea was playing every point until the end and I really had to win this match because she was playing very good today and I’m really glad the way I finished the match fighting for the last points.” Despite having 60 unforced errors, the winners continued to help her get through the tough moments and into the second round where she’ll face American Taylor Townsend on Thursday.

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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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