Ostapenko dusts off a rival once more

Ostapenko dusts off a rival once more

PARIS • It has been pretty much boom or bust for Jelena Ostapenko at Roland Garros but she believes she can return to the world’s top 10 with a little more consistency in her game, after she secured her first French Open victory yesterday since lifting the trophy in 2017.

The Latvian, 23, blasted 46 winners en route to a 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Madison Brengle – her only win at Roland Garros since her shock run to the title three years ago.

Ostapenko’s raw talent and fearless approach powered her to a stunning French Open triumph that saw her become the first unseeded player to win the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Britain’s Margaret Scriven in 1933.

But she admitted she struggled to cope with increased expectations following that fairy-tale run in Paris, and has added just two minor titles to her collection since beating Simona Halep in the 2017 final.

“After I won it was a tough time. I had to get used to the pressure but now it’s all gone, and finally I won my first match after two years (of losing),” she said yesterday. “I feel like much better than the years before. I was practising a lot. I didn’t play the US swing and I was practising all the time on clay. I was kind of waiting for this clay season. Finally, here we are. Yeah, just taking one match at a time, but really happy with my performance today.”

She hit 40 more winners than Brengle, while also committing 22 unforced errors more than her 78th-ranked opponent.

Ostapenko reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in March 2018 and made both the quarter-finals and semi-finals at Wimbledon in the two appearances directly after her French Open breakthrough.

But she entered this year’s concluding Grand Slam again unseeded, at No. 43 in the world.

“I just have to be more confident in my game and more consistent,” said Ostapenko, who could pose a test for fourth-ranked Karolina Pliskova – who beat Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif 6-7 (9-11), 6-2, 6-4 – in the second round.

“If there is a consistency in my game, I think I’m going to be a very dangerous player and it’s going to be very, like, not easy to beat me… If I get my consistency back like in 2017 and beginning of 2018 also, I think I’ll be back in like top 10.”

Consistency is something world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is all too familiar with. The Serb notched his 32nd win in 33 matches this year by beating Sweden’s Mikael Ymer 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.

    DAY 3 SELECTED RESULTS

    MEN 1ST RD Christian Garin (Chi) bt Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) 6-4 4-6 6-1 6-4, Marc Polmans (Aus) bt Ugo Humbert (Fra) 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3, Matteo Berrettini (Ita) bt Vasek Pospisil (Can) 6-3 6-1 6-3.

    WOMEN 1ST RD Nao Hibino (Jpn) bt Marta Kostyuk (Ukr) 6-4 6-0, Elena Rybakina (Kaz) bt Sorana Cirstea (Rou) 6-0 6-3, Karolina Pliskova (Cze) bt Mayar Sherif (Egy) 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 6-4.

While Ostapenko and Djokovic cruised, it was not the same for others in Paris. On Monday, Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino finally outlasted France’s Corentin Moutet 0-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 18-16 in the second longest match in French Open history at 6hr 5min.

The clash featured 459 points won, 145 winners and 184 unforced errors.

World No. 157 Giustino secured his first Grand Slam main draw and Tour-level win after a final set lasting 180 minutes in a match held over from Sunday.

Moutet won more points than Giustino – 242 to 217 – but the 29-year-old journeyman emerged the victor in a contest that fell 28 minutes short of the tournament’s record marathon tie between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement in 2004.

Also on Monday, Rafael Nadal started his quest for a record-extending 13th French Open title with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 first-round win against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov. The Spaniard, looking to equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, will face American Mackenzie McDonald today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

FRENCH OPEN

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