In a battle between players from the Baltic nations, it was Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia who came out on top in the Viking International final, as she overwhelmed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3, to claim the fourth WTA singles title of her career.
Ostapenko, who famously charged to the 2017 Roland Garros championship for her maiden singles title, can now add a grass-court trophy to her tally, which also includes hardcourt titles at 2017 Seoul and 2019 Luxembourg.
"I'm really happy with the way I played the whole week," Ostapenko said, in her post-match press conference. "There were some close matches, but I was fighting till the last moment. I played really well, and I think the semifinal and final I played really on a high level."
Kontaveit came into the Eastbourne final with a 2-0 head-to-head lead over Ostapenko at tour level, but the Latvian turned the tables this time around, sweeping to victory in just an hour and five minutes of play.
Third wildcard to lift the title 🏆@JelenaOstapenk8 pushes past Kontaveit in straight-sets for the #VikingInternational title! pic.twitter.com/yFx9tPjvuW— wta (@WTA) June 26, 2021
"I think I was honestly very calm going into the match," Ostapenko said. "I had no stress at all. I warmed up really well, and I was really ready. I was just expecting a really tough match, because I knew she's a great player and it's going to be really hard to play against her.
"I was trying to play more aggressive and to go for the shots when I had chances. I think I served really well today, I returned and changed the directions [which] also helped me a lot. And using dropshots and different kind of shots, sometimes slices I did from the forehand."
Ostapenko, who received a wildcard into the event, won over 78 percent of her first-service points in the clash, and hit no double faults for the second match in a row. In the tilt between hard-hitting players, it was Ostapenko who came up with more winners, by 24 to Kontaveit's 17.
Thus, Ostapenko became the third wildcard to take home the Eastbourne title, following romps to the title by Monica Seles in 1996 and Julie Halard-Decugis in 2000.
Holding it high and proud 😀@JelenaOstapenk8 | #VikingInternational pic.twitter.com/d3xOYfUK9c— wta (@WTA) June 26, 2021
Ostapenko got off to a flying start as her powerful service returns dominated the early stages of the affair. A crosscourt return winner allowed her to clinch the first service break of the match at 1-1, and then she used incredible depth from that shot to build her lead to 4-1 with a second break.
The Latvian served for the opening set at 5-2, but Kontaveit proved that she could match Ostapenko in that game, as the Estonian knocked off four stunning service return winners in a row to break at love, edging closer in the set. But Kontaveit’s late charge proved to be for naught as she let a 40-15 lead slip away in the next game, and ceded the set with a double fault.
Ostapenko clinched the only break of the second set at 2-1, and she eased through the remainder of the match from there. Serving for the match at 5-3, a forehand winner gave Ostapenko two championship points. The first was saved by Kontaveit with a forehand return winner, but Ostapenko converted her second chance as a return from Kontaveit flew long.
"I think it's just the beginning," Ostapenko said. "If I keep playing the way I played this tournament, I think I can be back in the Top 10 and play well. So I just have to keep that in my mind and work even harder. "
Title No. 7 as a pair 💥— wta (@WTA) June 26, 2021
No.2 seeds @EnaShibs and Shuko Aoyama defeat the No.1 seeds for the title 🏆 in Eastbourne!#VikingInternational pic.twitter.com/HmQepeLRBT
In the doubles final, No.2 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara got back to their title-winning ways with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over No.1 seeds Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs.
When asked what the key was to their success in Eastbourne, Aoyama responded, "I had beef dinner every day," to the laughter of Shibahara.
"I tried to fight more, and just focus on the current point," Aoyama continued. "It was a very good match."
The Japanese duo of Aoyama and Shibahara had won three titles in the first quarter of the season, at Abu Dhabi, the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne, and the Miami Open. They were unable to reach a final during the clay swing, but are now back in the winner's circle after a 68-minute victory on the grass of Eastbourne.
"We’ve had some ups and downs this year, and we make sure that even in our downs, we keep telling each other that we can improve, so that we can get to that next level," Shibahara said. "I think this week was really good for us."
Aoyama and Shibahara saved all three of the break points they faced in the clash, while converting three of the four break points they held against the top seeds, to move to 4-0 in doubles finals this season. In fact, the Japanese pair have won their last seven doubles finals, dating back to 2019.
Eastbourne is the 16th WTA doubles title for Aoyama in her career, and her second title on grass courts. Shibahara now has seven career WTA doubles titles, all coming within the aforementioned streak with Aoyama.