TORONTO, Canada - Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko came through a first-round clash of former Top 10 players at the Rogers Cup on Monday, as she downed France's Caroline Garcia in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.
Having failed to defend a semifinal showing from 2018 at Wimbledon, where she lost in the first round to Hsieh Su-wei, and also suffering defeat to Bernarda Pera in the first round at the Baltic Open on home soil, Ostapenko arrived in Canada on a three-match losing skid, and hoping to avoid a 12th first-round exit for the season.
Overcoming 12 double faults with seven aces and five breaks of serve, the current World No.82 came through in just 71 minutes, setting up a second round meeting with either No.9 seed Aryna Sabalenka or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
"It was a tough match. This season in general is very tough for me, so every win I get is very good for me and good for my confidence. Obviously, I want to get it back and be back on top," Ostapenko said.
"I think in general, it was a good match, espcecially for the first round. It was, of course, up and down, but I think in general, I played well."
The Latvian pummeled 22 winners to 14 unforced errors - as the World No.22 managed just four winners to nine unforced - and earned the victory in the first-ever match between the two former Top 10 players.
The victory was Ostapenko's first at either iteration of the Rogers Cup, having previously been 0-3 combined in the main draw of Toronto and Montreal.
Despite the winless spell in singles, Ostapenko arrives on the North American hard courts having been runner-up in a doubles draw in each of her last two tournaments, in the mixed doubles with Robert Lindstedt at Wimbledon and with Galina Voskoboeva at the Baltic Open.
"I'm just trying to use doubles as a part of practice because it's another match. You have this pressure, like in singles...and it's still very similar," Ostapenko said.
"It's another match, so you can work on some things in doubles. I enjoy it because I play with the girls or mixed doubles with the guys that I have fun with on court, so I think it's great."
The Latvian has never faced Sabalenka in singles, but the Belarusian has gotten the better of Ostapenko in both of their doubles matches this year, partnering Elise Mertens to wins over Ostapenko and Danielle Collins in Miami, and Ostapenko and Nadiia Kichenok at the French Open.
Against the Russian, Ostapenko is 3-1 in their head-to-head overall, as they've split two meetings in 2019.
"I never played against Aryna. I think she's a great player and she's hitting the ball hard, so I think it would be an aggressive match from both of us, so I'm just going to try to enjoy it, as I did today," Ostapenko assessed.
"With Pavlyuchenkova, I've played her many times, and last time was in Madrid [this year, won by Ostapenko]. I kind of know how she plays. She's a great player and she's hitting the ball hard as well, so I'm just going to try and focus on myself."