STUTTGART, Germany -- No.7 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia claimed victory in a streaky all-Latvian first-round clash at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Tuesday, overcoming her compatriot Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.
"I don’t think it was a nice feeling for us both," Sevastova told the press, when asked about her feelings playing a fellow Latvian. "At the end of the day, you just concentrate on yourself. It’s Stuttgart, it’s the first match, you play like it’s any other match -- you try. It’s hard, but that’s the thing that I did."
World No.13 Sevastova, who reached the Stuttgart quarterfinals in her most recent appearance at the event in 2017, eliminated 29th-ranked Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion and a Stuttgart quarterfinalist last year, after one hour and 49 minutes of play. Sevastova converted half of her 14 break points in the meeting.
Sevastova claimed the complicated win over her 21-year-old countrywoman in their first meeting at WTA level. Sevastova had also claimed a victory over Ostapenko, via retirement, in the Moscow qualifying draw in 2015.
29-year-old Sevastova moves into the second round, where she will face German wild card Laura Siegemund, who defeated Lesia Tsurenko, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round. Siegemund has had stupendous success in Stuttgart during her career, winning the title in 2017 and finishing as runner-up in 2016.
Sevastova called Siegemund "a tough clay-courter to play. I lost to her in Charleston [in 2017], and I beat her in Bucharest some years ago [in 2016]. She never gives you free points, she runs, she mixes it up, she plays a lot of drop shots. She likes this court -- obviously, she won here. She has the home-crowd advantage here, so it’s going to be tough."
Sevastova had a great start to the encounter, clinching the first break of the match from an error-prone Ostapenko to lead 2-1. Sevastova then maneuvered past two break points in the subsequent game to eke out a hold for 3-1 and maintain her advantage.
Both players saved break points in the next two games, but Ostapenko was not as fortunate at 4-2, dropping serve after well-timed strong returns by Sevastova. Serving for the set at 5-2, Sevastova fired an ace to bring up set point. An apparent second straight ace to close out the set was overturned, but Sevastova took the opening set anyway after a wide return by Ostapenko.
The opening stages of the second set, however, went overwhelmingly in Ostapenko’s favor. The French Open champion of two years ago found the range on her go-for-broke groundstrokes, at one juncture winning ten straight points as she cracked open a 5-0, double-break lead.
But Ostapenko faltered when serving for the set at 5-1, squandering two set points with a long groundstroke and a double fault, and Sevastova ended up claiming that game on her fourth break point. More errors and double faults led to Ostapenko dropping serve again at 5-3, and Sevastova’s grit had pulled her back on serve at 5-4.
But after that astounding fightback and a 30-0 lead, Sevastova hit two double faults and an error to suddenly provide Ostapenko a third set point out of nowhere. Ostapenko opened that point with a cracking service return, putting her in command of a rally which ended with a wide Sevastova shot, and the match was level at one set apiece in a roundabout fashion.
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But Sevastova won key games at the very start of the decider to set the tone as the match reached its end. She broke Ostapenko in the opening game of the final set, then held serve for 2-0 from 0-40 down, punctuating that comeback with an ace.
Ostapenko then dropped serve in the third game of the set after a misplayed volley, and Sevastova continued her march to victory after saving two break points to hold for 4-0. Sevastova broke again, allowing her to serve for the match at 5-0. A hold at love polished off the bagel set, sending Sevastova sliding into round two.