LUXEMBOURG - Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko is into her second WTA final in as many weeks after coming back from a set down against Anna Blinkova at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Last week at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz, Ostapenko halted her slide down the rankings with a run to the championship match - her first appearance in a final since March of 2018. Despite falling to teenage phenom Coco Gauff in a three-set thriller, the run was a flash of Ostapenko at her worldbeating best.
She’s carried that momentum into Luxembourg, although an inspired Blinkova almost stopped her from reaching her first ever back-to-back WTA-level finals.
“I think she started the match pretty well, and I was a little bit slow at the beginning. I didn’t really get the rhythm,” Ostapenko explained in her post-match press conference.
“After I just felt my game more and I was making not so many unforced errors like in the first set, I was missing a lot. I didn’t expect her probably to play this well in the first set.”
In fact, the No.8 seeded Russian struck just one unforced error during a nearly flawless opening set. Aided by three Ostapenko double faults, Blinkova scored a break in her opponent’s first service game, taking a 2-0 lead and quickly consolidating to 3-0.
She kept Ostapenko firmly under pressure for the rest of the first set, handling her heavy groundstrokes with confidence. Blinkova enjoyed break opportunities in three of Ostapenko’s four service games - but the first break was the only one the Russian needed, taking the set, 6-3.
But Blinkova couldn’t maintain the high level as the match went on, and Ostapenko pounced on the opportunity to get back in the match. Ostapenko created her first break chances on the Blinkova serve in the Russian’s first service game before breaking to lead 3-1. The Latvian attacked every short ball and vulnerable second serve, fighting her way to level the score at one set apiece.
With Ostapenko dialed in, the third set was one-way traffic for the Latvian wildcard. She recorded two unanswered breaks of serve - once at 1-0 and then again at 4-1 - to take control of the match and claim the victory after an hour and 52 minutes on court.
“I feel really good on court,” Ostapenko said. “It doesn’t really feel like it’s the end of the season and you are supposed to be tired. Honestly, even in the matches that I played three sets I felt really fresh. I felt like I can play and play and play more.”
Ostapenko fired eight aces and 32 winners past Blinkova, committing 31 unforced errors and keeping Blinkova contained to 16 winners and 15 errors. The Latvian was the aggressor for most of the pair’s exchanges, and was rewarded by three breaks of serve from six opportunities, while Blinkova converted just one from six.
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“This is really nice, especially here because it’s the last tournament of the season so it’s really great to be in the final here,” Ostapenko said. “I’m really enjoying my time here and looking forward to playing tomorrow… To finish the season this way, I think it’s great.”
Ostapenko now awaits the winner between No.2 seed Julia Goerges and No.3 seed Elena Rybakina as she hopes to lift her first trophy since 2017 Seoul.
“I know both of them, though actually I’ve never played against Julia,” Ostapenko assessed. “But I know both of them. Rybakina I played last week in Linz, in semifinals. Both are great players, but I just have to focus more on myself.”