JURMALA, Latvia - Bernarda Pera shocked hometown favorite and former World No.5 Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2, 6-1, to reach the second round of the inaugural Baltic Open.
"I feel great," she said immediately after the victory. "Every ball, I saw really big, and thank God I got to finish early!"
Playing in front of her home crowd, the former French Open champion was overcome by the unseeded American after 66 minutes on Centre Court.
"I knew I could win this match," she continued in her post-match press conference. "I just had to stay focused and stick to my game plan. I felt pretty good from the beginning and I'm happy to get through."
While Ostapenko was playing her first match on clay since Roland Garros, Pera was coming off a semifinal finish at the Ladies Championship Lausanne, where she fell to eventual champion Fiona Ferro.
Playing clutch tennis throughout, Pera dug out of a 0-40 deficit in what proved to be a decisive fifth game of the first set, saving four total break points in that game alone before running away with the match, storming through 10 of the final 11 games.
"I was expecting it," she said of the pro-Ostapenko crowd. "I didn't feel like they were trying to make me feel bad or like they were clapping for my mistakes, though. They were really good.
"I think the club is really nice, and everything is great so far around here."
Seeded No.8 in Jurmala, Ostapenko had shown signs of improvement after an injury-addled end of 2018 interrupted her pre-season and led to a slow start in the new year, defeating Johanna Konta at the Nature Valley Classic and Sloane Stephens at the Nature Valley International.
— WTA (@WTA) July 23, 2019
She bravely held to end the run of games against her but Pera held firm, closing the door with an emphatic hold to love.
In all, Pera struck an even 11 winners to 12 unforced errors and saved all seven break points faced for the match. Ostapenko, by contrast, is still looking for the consistency that took her to Grand Slam glory in 2017, striking 35 errors to just 12 winners.
Standing between the American and a spot in the quarterfinals is BRD Bucharest Open champion Elena Rybakina, who won a sixth straight match over Han Xinyun earlier in the day.
"I go round by round, so I didn't know who I play next, and I've never played her before, so we'll have to check some notes and videos."