No.12 seed Jelena Ostapenko booked her place in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in four years with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Irina-Camelia Begu in the third round of Wimbledon.
The result marks the fourth time that the Latvian has reached the fourth round of a major, three of which have come at SW19. After winning Roland Garros in 2017, she followed that with a Wimbledon quarterfinal the same year, and a semifinal in 2018.
Last year, Ostapenko was unable to translate strong grass form into a deep run at Wimbledon, winning Eastbourne but falling in the third round of The Championships to Ajla Tomljanovic. But the 25-year-old has continued her resurgence in 2022, winning Dubai in February and reaching the Eastbourne final for a second straight year. After a patchy start, she hit her stride to storm through the round where she was tripped up in 2021.
Ostapenko will next face either No.5 seed Maria Sakkari or mother-of-two Tatjana Maria in the last 16.
Match management: Ostapenko's numbers illustrated both her own streakiness, and the limitations of statistics to tell the whole story. She landed 57% of her first serves in the first set, but was broken twice to lose it. That number plummeted to 27% in the second set, during which she faced no break points and indeed only dropped three points on serve in total.
The efficacy of Ostapenko's second serve was the key difference. In the first set, she won only three points (20%) behind it. In the second, she won all but three points behind it (73%).
Behind those numbers were her greater focus in the rallies that ensued behind her second serve, and an improved ability to rise to the occasion on big points. In the first set, Ostapenko was in the ascendancy after coming back from an early break, capturing the Begu serve with four monster returns and moving up 3-2. But the Romanian took advantage of a series of loose Ostapenko errors to reel off the next four games for the set.
But in the second set, Ostapenko found some scintillating tennis to break Begu three times, each after a tight deuce tussle, and put together a nine-game streak of her own as she took this form into the decider. Leading 3-1, Ostapenko passed her first test on serve since the first set, saving two break points and edging up 4-1.
As the finishing line approached, she found yet another level, breaking Begu for 5-1 with her most breathtaking game of the match. That was sealed with a spectacular forehand pass on the run, one of the 28 clean winners Ostapenko struck over the course of the match.
Niemeier on a roll to reach last 16
Playing her second Grand Slam main draw and first Wimbledon, No.97-ranked Jule Niemeier battled into the second week of a major for the first time by defeating Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in 2 hours and 4 minutes.
The result backed up the German's upset of No.2 seed Anett Kontaveit in the previous round. Niemeier, 22, was the more aggressive player throughout, striking 27 winners to Tsurenko's 20.