DOHA, Qatar -- Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia survived a late-night thriiler that ended well past midnight, overcoming a spirited effort by Swiss qualifier Jil Teichmann and winning 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, to move into the second round of the Qatar Total Open 2020.
"It was not an easy match," Ostapenko said, after the match. "It was a little bit like a rollercoaster."
World No.42 Ostapenko, who reached the final in her Doha debut back in 2016, needed two hours and 30 minutes to quell the challenge from 68th-ranked Teichmann, who won her first two WTA singles titles last season on clay courts.
In the first meeting between the two players, former Top 5 player Ostapenko was the aggressor, hitting 47 winners to Teichmann's 21. Ostapenko also had 33 more unforced errors than Teichmann, but, nevertheless, the Latvian was able to convert both of her break points in the third set to claim the win.
"It was tough this year, I didn’t play too many matches, so I was just trying to play my game, but it didn’t go all the way all the time," Ostapenko continued.
"I was making many unforced errors, but I was still trying to play aggressive and to find my game," Ostapenko said. "I think the main thing is I was fighting until the end, and I managed to win the match even if I didn’t play my best."
The match began with four consecutive breaks of serve, before Teichmann was able to get her feet under her first on serve, holding at love for a 3-2 lead. Ostapenko was next to follow, but not without a struggle, as she had to save a break point before getting her first service hold for 3-3.
Ostapenko then went up a break once more, converting her third break point of a protracted game with a forehand winner down the line. However, the Latvian handed the break right back, double faulting on break point in the subsequent game, and the combatants found themselves level again at 4-4.
But the power game of Ostapenko would come through at the set’s end, as she earned a crucial break for 6-5 by forcing an error with her backhand wing. The Latvian took that advantage and ran with it, zipping to triple set point in the next game. Ostapenko then converted her first opportunity, polishing off a tremendous all-court rally with another winning down-the-line forehand.
Booming forehands led Ostapenko to an early break in the second set, as she took a 2-1 lead. However, the Swiss player would fire a backhand return winner on break point in the very next game to level the set at 2-2, and from there, Teichmann started a hot streak.
Teichman mixed in exceptional rally defense with stirring winners for the rest of the set, earning another break and a 4-2 lead in the process. After an ace to hold for 5-2, Teichmann zipped to triple set point in the next game, and on her second opportunity, the Swiss blasted another return winner to clinch a fifth straight game, and with it the second set.
Ostapenko broke Teichmann in the opening game of the decider, but the Swiss struck back three games later to level the set at 2-2. The pair stayed neck-and-neck for nearly the entire duration, with the closest game being Ostapenko’s hold for 3-3, where she saved a break point before clinching the four-deuce game with a fierce forehand winner.
At last, another break occurred at 5-5, where powerful groundstrokes by the Latvian forced a short error from Teichmann on break point, giving Ostapenko the critical break and a chance to serve for the match.
Two strong serves and a rally forehand pulled Ostapenko to double match point, and the 2017 Roland Garros champion only needed one, as a strong serve was returned long to give Ostapenko the victory after a marathon meeting with her outstanding opponent.
"Especially in the third set, I was playing more aggressive, and I was not afraid to go for the shots in deciding moments," Ostapenko stated. "I think it helped me to win the match."
Ostapenko will now face either No.10 seed Petra Martic of Croatia or Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic in the second round of the Premier 5-level event.