OSTRAVA, Czech Republic -- Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia claimed the last remaining spot in the second round of the J&T Banka Ostrava Open on Wednesday, swiftly upsetting No.5 seed Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 6-1.
2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko, who received a wildcard into the event, came into the match with a rough head-to-head against Martic, as the Croat had won their two previous encounters. Nevertheless, Ostapenko comprehensively upended their history with a 57-minute victory on the indoor hardcourts of Ostrava.
"I think I played really well today," Ostapenko told the press, after her win. "I just got used to playing the first couple of games, but then I played really well and I didn’t give her any chances to play her game, and I made so many winners. I played very smart and also used dropshots and mixed it up a little bit, which helped me, but in the deciding moments I was still very aggressive."
44th-ranked Ostapenko's win over World No.18 Martic marks the Latvian's milestone 20th career victory over an opponent ranked inside the Top 20. Former Top 5 player Ostapenko blasted 30 winners to 15 unforced errors in the affair; Martic also had 15 unforced errors, but was only able to muster up nine winners on the day.
"I knew [Martic] was going to make a lot of balls in play, and I’d have to be very focused and very consistent to beat her," said Ostapenko. "I think I prepared very well for the match against her, and I knew how she was playing, but I still stuck with having to play aggressive. Today I felt like I played very smart against her."
Ostapenko will now face Ons Jabeur of Tunisia for a spot in the quarterfinals, after Jabeur eliminated Barbora Strycova in straight sets on Tuesday. Ostapenko won her only prior meeting with Jabeur, which came at an ITF Challenger event back in 2015.
"Ons is such a talented player, I’ve known her for many years," said Ostapenko. "She has very good hands. In general, this year she’s improved so much and she’s playing really well now. I’m just going to try to enjoy it."
A flurry of miscues by Ostapenko in the opening game gave Martic an early break, and after a swift hold to consolidate for 2-0 and two more break points in the following game, the Croat was inches from a sturdy lead. Ostapenko, though, used her power game to erase those chances and hold for 2-1, then fired a forehand passing winner to break in the next game and level the set at 2-2.
The Latvian’s aggressive play served her well through the remainder of the opening frame, as she knocked off five games in a row to take a commanding 5-2 lead. Martic stopped the streak with a hold for 5-3, but Ostapenko served out the set at love, drawing return errors from Martic with ease. Ostapenko crushed 20 winners in the first set, with only ten unforced errors on her plate.
A forehand crosscourt winner quickly gave Ostapenko the upper hand in the second set, as she used that shot to break Martic in the first game. A second break followed, and after another plethora of forehand winners wrapped up a hold for a 4-0 lead, the Latvian was well on track to obtain her first-ever win over Martic.
The Croat powered her way to a hold for 4-1, ending another five-game streak by Ostapenko. However, the Latvian would not allow Martic another game as she refused to cede control of the encounter.
A crosscourt backhand winner by Ostapenko closed out an easy hold for 5-1, and after a dropshot attempt by Martic clipped the netcord and flew wide in the next game, the unseeded player held two match points. The forehand sealed the win, as Ostapenko fired one down the line to draw a short response from Martic, which Ostapenko put away crosscourt from that side.