MONTREAL, Canada -- Great Britain's Johanna Konta picked up another big win on the hardcourts of North America on Tuesday, upsetting 2017 Roland Garros champion and No.11 seed Jelena Ostapenko, 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of the Rogers Cup.
"[Ostapenko] has such a big game, so many big shots, sometimes you are a spectator out there," Konta told the press, after the match. "When I had the opportunity to do the most I could, stay strong, I think I built up enough momentum. That's why I was able to, yeah, keep pushing through in the second and third."
Both of their previous meetings were three-set dustups which lasted over two hours, and this match was no exception, with Konta claiming a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head after two hours and three minutes of hard-hitting play. Konta fired eight aces and held 10 break points, converting eight of those. Ostapenko was undone by a whopping 54 unforced errors, nearly double Konta's 30.
"I think obviously because of that back and forth in that first set, after that I think what I did well was I settled down quite well," Konta explained. "I played myself into the match and tried to be as tough as possible."
World No.43 Konta, who had a stunning victory over 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in San Jose last week to open the summer hardcourt season, will face either Kristina Mladenovic of France or wild card and former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the second round.
"I’m looking forward to it," Konta said, when asked about her next match. "I think, as my first round showed, and the second-round possibilities are, there’s no easy matches. So I’m looking forward to it. Both of them are tough players in different ways."
Konta raced out to a 3-0, double-break lead, as the Brit stayed steady while Ostapenko fell into a morass of unforced errors and double faults. But the Latvian rebounded back to 3-3 with a pattern of strong service returns which jarred Konta into errors of her own.
Following another exchange of breaks to 4-4, the players settled down and exhibited hard-hitting rallies from all sections of the court. After six breaks in the first eight games, there were no break points for either player from 4-4 to 6-6, as they advanced to the tiebreak.
In the breaker, a backhand winner put Ostapenko up 4-2 at the change of ends, but Konta got back on serve at 5-5 after Ostapenko’s eighth double fault of the set.
Another exceptional return by Ostapenko forced an error from the Brit, giving the Latvian set point at 6-5, but Ostapenko squandered that chance with a wide forehand miscue. However, Ostapenko had a second set point two points later, on Konta’s serve, and, again, a powerful service return led to a long forehand reply by Konta, giving the Latvian a one-set lead.
But after winning a hard-fought first set, Ostapenko struggled in the second, and Konta once again quickly raced to a 3-0 lead. This time, however, Konta did not let up, holding for 4-1 and then garnering a second break for 5-1 with a backhand passing shot winner off an Ostapenko volley.
Serving for the set, Konta missed her first set point, and then allowed Ostapenko to get to break point. But Konta maneuvered her way back to a second set point, which was converted after a wide return by Ostapenko. In the second set, Ostapenko had 13 unforced errors to 10 winners, while Konta had four of each, and converted both of the break points she got a look at.
Konta continued to be the more consistent player in the deciding set. The Brit handed back an early break lead with a double fault, letting Ostapenko level the set at 2-2, but from there, Konta took complete control. Konta broke Ostapenko at love to reclaim the lead at 3-2, and clinched a second break for good measure with a return winner, to serve for the match at 5-2.
If Konta felt any nerves in claiming another win over a Grand Slam champion, they were impossible to spot, slamming two aces to hold at love and close out the victory by winning the final four games. Thus, Konta moves into the second round of the Rogers Cup for the third straight year.