Jelena Ostapenko is swinging freely once again. That's bad news for the field, as evidenced by her resilient title run at the 2022 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where she dismissed four consecutive major champions en route to the biggest hard-court title of her career.

The 2017 French Open champion has never been shy about her ambitions, but Ostapenko has been quick out of the blocks in establishing herself as a dangerous threat in 2022. Having already booked a spot in the Round of 16 at this week's Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha, she is now 12-3 on the season. All three losses have come to Top 10 opposition: Paula Badosa in Sydney, Barbora Krejcikova at the Australian Open, and Anett Kontaveit in St. Petersburg.

Now up to No.13, her highest ranking since 2018, Ostapenko says the key to her resurgence of the last few months has been a stronger commitment to her aggressive game-style, a never-give-up fighting spirit, and a pressure-free mindset.

"I feel like the toughest opponent is myself. Not in all the matches, but in most of them."

WTA Insider: When you arrived in Dubai, did you have a feeling it was going to be a good week for you?

Ostapenko: Honestly, when I arrived it was tough because I did semis in St. Petersburg so I didn't really have time to get used to switching from indoor to outdoors. So I thought ok, I'm just going to play, it's how it will be. I didn't expect anything. But then I played better with every match and got more and more confident. 

WTA Insider: Was there a moment or match that gave you a big confidence boost that you could win the title?

Ostapenko: Every match was tough, especially the one with Petra Kvitova. But I knew that after such matches against her, very close matches, after those matches you can have really good results because that happens a lot in tennis. 

WTA Insider: What was the key to your week?

Ostapenko: I think I was fighting until the very last point. I never gave up, even when things were not going my way. I was just fighting. Even if I didn't have my game I was just trying to get back into the match. 

In the final, I was playing really well. I was so into it and I really wanted to win. So I think all the matches were good. I mean, I played four Slam champions in a row.

Insider Wrap: The numbers behind Ostapenko's title-run in Dubai

WTA Insider: You've been playing well for some time now, ever since you won Eastbourne last summer. In Australia, you seemed to be playing well too, losing to Barbora Krejcikova in three sets.

Ostapenko: Against Krejcikova I played well until I was 6-2, 3-1 up. I was really playing aggressive and taking time away from her, and then I stepped back a little bit so she had more time. But in general I thought I played well. 

Also last year at the end of the year, semis at Indian Wells, final of Luxembourg, I played well. I think I started to play more aggressively and take time away from the girls. And in the deciding moments, not being afraid to go for the shots like before. Not thinking too much, just going for it.

WTA Insider: You're known for being such an aggressive player. Why do you think you were finding yourself in positions where you would play passively? 

Ostapenko: Yeah, I think I was trying to - even the Australian Open in the third round - I was trying to be more accurate and just put the ball in play, which I shouldn't. I should go for my shots and play my aggressive game. I felt like I have to be even more aggressive sometimes.

I was just trying not to give too many free points. I can still do that, but play aggressively. But when I step back a little bit it's easier for the opponent. If I keep winning in the score I should just play aggressive, the same way I was playing when the score was my way. Keep playing like that, don't step back or play more accurately. 

WTA Insider: You've now won 7 of the 8 three-set matches you've played this year. How much pride do you take out of that statistic?

Ostapenko: Some of them were really tough and the opponent was playing really well but some of them I felt I was in control and I was fighting with myself. Matches like against Petra, she was playing really well against me and it was high-level tennis from both of us. 

But most of those other matches I felt like I was in control. When I miss I lose, when I start to play aggressive and put more balls in, the score is my way and I win the matches.

WTA Insider: Do you feel like you're your own worst enemy sometimes?

Ostapenko: Honestly, some matches I feel like I'm not fighting with the players but against myself. Sometimes when I get too much in the emotions I'm playing against myself, which I'm working on and I should get rid of it. 

But I feel like the toughest opponent is myself. Not in all the matches, but in most of them. Because even when the score is close I still feel like I have a lot of potential and I have the reserves to put in when I'm playing that match. 

I'm not always 100%, sometimes I'm 50% or 60% and I'm still winning. But if I'm at 100%, the players can be in trouble.

"My mom was telling me I already won a Slam, so why do I feel pressure? The other players should feel the pressure, the ones who still didn't win a Slam. I should just play and enjoy it."

WTA Insider: You set your goals this year to win another major and get back in the Top 10. Does your success in the first two months of the season change your expectations?

Ostapenko: I set the goal to be back in the Top 10 but I'm more relaxed, in a good way, not in a bad way. More like I'm not thinking too much. Just enjoying tennis. 

I want to play even more and more, because when you're winning you want to play more tournaments. Even now, playing three weeks in a row, I want to keep playing, keep fighting. I probably will make more goals this year. But I just want to be confident and play my game.

I had a lot of pressure before, since winning French Open. It's been enough. Now I'm just more enjoying myself and fighting and trying to find my best on the court. Even if the match is not going my way, I never give up. I was fighting in all the matches, I think.

WTA Insider: When did you begin to feel like you could play pressure-free again?

Ostapenko: My mom was telling me I already won a Slam, so why do I feel pressure? The other players should feel the pressure, the ones who still didn't win a Slam. I should just play and enjoy it. Why should I feel the pressure? She knows me really well. 

Also before the final in Dubai I was asked if I felt pressure before the final, but honestly I didn't feel the pressure at all. I was just confident and hungry to win the match, to win the title.

WTA Insider: You talk about enjoying your tennis, enjoying life on tour. What's the key to enjoying it right now?

Ostapenko: It's more about being on the court. The travel and being in hotels is not always that much fun. It's not that it's boring, but when you have a lot of matches you don't have time to go anywhere. 

I have a lot of fun with my team a lot, but it's more that I enjoy it on the court, the way I play and the way I fight and just enjoying the game.

Champion's Reel: How Jelena Ostapenko won Dubai 2022

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