WIMBLEDON, Great Britain -- No.12 seed and 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia overcame a dire head-to-head record to dispatch 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, 6-1, 6-3, in the second round of Wimbledon on Thursday.
Ostapenko and Flipkens had played twice before, both times in 2015, and Flipkens had won each of those matches handily, dropping a total of five games between the two meetings. But it was a completely different story at SW19 three years later, as Ostapenko advanced to the third round for the second straight year in 55 minutes.
The battle of former Wimbledon junior champions -- Flipkens claimed the girls' singles in 2003, while Ostapenko won it 11 years later -- went the way of the big-hitting Ostapenko, whose typically go-for-broke game worked perfectly on the London grass. Ostapenko had 19 winners in the match, nearly three times Flipkens' seven.
Ostapenko, hoping to match her quarterfinal showing from last year, now faces a surprise package in the third round: Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko. Diatchenko followed up her first-round stunner over Maria Sharapova with a comfortable 6-4, 6-1 second-round victory over American Sofia Kenin.
The match was perilous for Flipkens from the very beginning, as the Belgian dropped serve in the opening game after holding game point. From deuce, Ostapenko won consecutive points with backhand winners, and the Latvian was off to the races.
Flipkens’ second service game ended the same way as her first one did: with Ostapenko claiming the break behind a backhand service return winner. In the following game, another backhand, this one a crosscourt passing shot, allowed Ostapenko to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
Flipkens got on the board for 4-1, but Ostapenko was unstoppable, and broke the Belgian for the third time in the set at 5-1, clinching the one-set lead with yet another backhand crosscourt passing shot. Barring her four double faults, Ostapenko won every point on her serve in the set.
Flipkens finally claimed her first break point of the match in the opening game of the second set, and broke Ostapenko when the 21-year-old Latvian sent a forehand miscue long. But Ostapenko quickly broke back in the next game, and a frustrated Flipkens dropped serve again at 2-1 after a backhand error.
Ostapenko was rejuvenated after reclaiming the lead in the set, and was hardly troubled from there. The Latvian held for 5-2 with an ace, and reached match point in that game after charging the net to put away a forehand winner. Nevertheless, strong serving by Flipkens allowed her to fend off the match point and hold for 5-3.
But Ostapenko was unfazed by the pressure of serving out the match, and at 5-3, 30-30, she blasted a huge crosscourt backhand, garnering a weak reply to put away a forehand winner and reach match point. A final strong serve was returned into the net, and a gleeful Ostapenko blew kisses to the crowd as she reached the third round of Wimbledon once more.
More to follow...