MELBOURNE, Australia - Jelena Ostapenko says her the left wrist injury that plagued her at the end of the 2018 season left her ill-prepared for the start of 2019. The 2017 Roland Garros champion has started her season with three consecutive losses, including Monday's 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 loss to Maria Sakkari in the first round of the Australian Open.
The Latvian was dispirited after the loss but said given her short pre-season the outcome was not surprising.
"I'm of course frustrated because I qualified for Zhuhai and I couldn't play there," Ostapenko said. "I felt I was going to take some time off and my wrist will get better, but it didn't get better. Then I couldn't start my off-season in time.
"In general, I knew I wasn't 100% ready for the new season but I tried to do everything I can to be ready and play the first tournament. But the result is what it is."
Ostapenko says she wasn't able to get back on court until a week before her first tournament at the Shenzhen Open. The 21-year-old lost to Monica Niculescu, 6-0, 6-2, and followed it with a loss to eventual finalist Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 6-3 at the Sydney International. This is the first time since Ostapenko turned pro that she has started a season with three straight losses.
"If I did two or three weeks preparation, it's not enough for me to play at this level because the level every year is higher and higher. All the players are so hungry and they want to win."
"The wrist didn't allow me to practice much," Ostapenko said. "The first week I could only practice one and a half hours a day, and for me that's not enough. Even today the match was almost 2 hours. I need to practice more, but because of the wrist I was very careful."
"Now I don't have pain in my wrist anymore so I can practice full and I can play more matches and more tournaments. I expected this result because it's tough to expect something big when you're not 100% and on your level."
"The first couple of weeks, even when I played the first tournament I was so scared about the wrist and I was scared to hit some shots full.
"I felt really bad that I couldn't show my best today. I was really trying but it just didn't go my way. I'm still playing doubles but after the tournament I want to go somewhere to be alone with myself for 2-3 days and try to think about everything and then start practicing again."
Ostapenko's next tournament is the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, which begins on January 28th.