Volvo Car Open: Jelena Ostapenko registers solid win over Johanna Larsson
Jelena Ostapenko was all smiles after a strong performance at the Volvo Car Open Monday afternoon. The Latvian kept her game in check despite numerous double faults to win in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 against Johanna Larsson.
The Latvian was more than excited to get into the clay court season as the hardcourts have not been friendly to her this season. The 21-year-old didn’t go deep in any of the tournaments she has participated in this year, making her first round match in Charleston an important one.
The 2017 runner-up has taken down the Swede twice in the past, but considering her recent form she knew she was in for a test. Larsson on her part has never made it out of the first round in Charleston, so a win for either one would have got them on the right track to transition smoothly.
Ostapenko was broken to start the match but she rallied back to score a break to love and even the set. The Swede again threatened to break in the third game but Ostapenko managed to hold after getting it to deuce.
With a 2-1 lead, the world number 31 pressed Larsson’s serve in the fourth game to draw errors, eventually clinching the break. She began to run away with the set from there, taking the next two games in succession.
Ostapenko served for the set in the seventh game and pushed Larsson back behind the baseline. Despite committing a sixth double fault, she remained on course as she reached two set points. Larsson tried fighting back as she somehow forced deuce, but the effort went in vain as Ostapenko capped the set in 29 minutes.
Larsson struggled mightily with her serve in the first set, as won just 4 of 14 points off the first serve and one of four from the second.
Recognizing that she needed to play with more intensity, the Swede pushed Ostapenko back and eventually held, to start the second set on a positive note. But the Latvian responded with terrific short angles that gave her an easy hold.
Larsson then showed signs of improvement on her first serve, scoring her first hold to love that put her in the lead. The 21-year-old remained firm after the changeover, and held off the Swede in the fourth game.
After holding in the fifth, the Swede called down her coach who gave her ideas on how to expose Ostapenko's weak spots. The Latvian also called down her coach who kept her confident before she went into her service game.
Ostapenko held and to get back on level terms, and the fight for the set was starting to get serious.
Ostapenko then managed to capture the break in the ninth game to open up a shot at serving for the match. Dominating the baseline rallies, the 21-year-old succeeded in achieving match point to end things in 1 hour and 13 minutes.
“I think I generally played quite well,” Ostapenko told Andrew Krasny after the match. “I was not missing so much and I tried to hit more winners and of course Johanna is a great player.”
“We’ve played twice before and it’s never easy to beat her and she fights to the end so I was just trying to play my best and glad to win the match,” she added.
Ostapenko will prepare for another challenge against either Shelby Rogers or Evgeniya Rodina on Wednesday.