LONDON, Great Britain - Jelena Ostapenko is into the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time in her career after knocking out Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets.
Both players came into the matchup in red-hot form, neither having dropped a set all tournament long, but it the No.12 seed Ostapenko who kept her streak alive to win, 7-5, 6-4.
Ostapenko told press before the match that she was “not afraid to miss” against Cibulkova, and it showed in her 28 unforced errors to 33 winners across two sets. But the big-hitting Latvian stuck to her gameplan, smothering Cibulkova’s game to a paltry six winners and 13 unforced errors.
“I knew I had to play aggressive because if not otherwise she had all the opportunities to go for winners. I was just trying to go for the shots when I had to,” Ostapenko said in press.
“Of course, at the beginning I didn't start the match that well, but then I felt my game, and played more confident.”
Cibulkova and Ostapenko stayed on serve after four breaks of serve in the first five games of the set, staying toe to toe as for the majority of the clash. But Ostapenko found a second gear late in the set, breaking once more at 6-5 and reeling off nine points in a row.
Ostapenko put some distance between her and her opponent as she grabbed the lead after three straight breaks of serve, 3-2. She fired off winners from both wings and notched two love service games to close out the match after just under an hour and a half.
“I felt today on the court I couldn't really bring my game into the match because she was really aggressive on the return,” Cibulkova said afterwards.
“Yeah, I could serve better. My percentage should have been higher. That was the most important thing today, that she could really put the pressure on my second serve. It was not easy on the court to bring my game today.”
With the win Ostapenko - who was the only player left in the draw to have reached the quarterfinal stage last year - becomes first ever Latvian woman to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon.
Up next she’ll take former finalist and No.11 seed Angelique Kerber, who took down No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 7-5. Should she defeat the German and reach the final, she’ll book herself a spot back in to the WTA’s Top 10 ranking.
“She's great player. It's going to be a battle. It's going to be a tough match,” Ostapenko said. “But I'm going to prepare well for it, going to be probably long rallies. I have to be very confident, aggressive, and consistent.
“I think [my confidence] is on a high level because I haven't dropped a set here yet. And I was fighting.
“Of course I was yesterday 2-5 down, today 4-5 down, and I still won the set. I think from that I gain even more confidence.”