MIAMI, FL, USA - 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko will meet Sloane Stephens in the Miami Open final after putting a decisive end to American qualifier Danielle Collins’ dream run.
The reigning French Open champion needed just two sets and just under two hours to defeat Collins 7-6(1), 6-3, and become the youngest player to reach the Miami final since 2009, when 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka claimed the title.
As it happened: Jelena Ostapenko blasts her way into Miami Open final
Her opponent Collins came into the matchup having already played almost 12 hours of tennis in Miami alone, battling through two rounds of qualifying to bring her total of matches to seven. Along the way she’s knocked out the likes of childhood hero and No.8 seed Venus Williams as well as CoCo Vandeweghe and Monica Puig, putting together a fairytale run into the semifinals.
But she finally met her match in Latvian powerhouse Ostapenko, who notched wins over No.9 seed Petra Kvitova and No.4 Elina Svitolina in to register multiple Top 10 wins in the same tournament for the first time in her career.
Ostapenko found herself under pressure from the get-go against Collins’ gutsy tennis. The American was crushing the returns and brought up five break opportunities in Ostapenko’s first two service games alone, pushing her to deuce seven times.
But despite the pressure it was the Latvian who broke first, getting ahead with a break to love at 3-1 on a sloppy Collins service game. Collins was undaunted, and kept apace with Ostapenko’s heavy hitting - the gambit worked and she broke straight back to level the score.
The pair stayed toe-to-toe as they marched into the first set tiebreak. Here it was Ostapenko - who has yet to lose a tiebreak here in Miami - that rose to the occasion, extending that record against Collins. She played almost perfect tennis to snap up four points in a row and allow her opponent just one point, closing it out 7-1.
Ostapenko carried the momentum into the second set, starting off with a break right away. Although Collins was able to create seven break chances in the first set - converting two - she wasn’t able to make a dent at all on the Ostapenko serve in the second set. Instead the big-hitting Latvian bracketed the set with another break of serve to finish, closing out the match after an hour and 41 minute battle.
Through to the final without dropping a set, one more win would see Ostapenko reach a new career-high ranking come Monday- she would jump up one spot to World No.4 should she win the title.
"I think now I'm playing more consistent and I'm just really happy to be here," she said.