Sunday 23 July 2017

Teenager rallies to knock out Wozniacki

 

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko. Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko. Photo: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Gerard Hughes

Unseeded Latvian teenager Jelena Ostapenko fought through the rain delays to battle past former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki and secure a place in the semi-finals of the French Open at Roland Garros, where there was disappointment for home favourite Kristina Mladenovic.

Ostapenko (19) had struggled against the wind during the opening set on Suzanne-Lenglen, which Wozniacki took control of with two early breaks of serve to race into a 5-0 lead. Ostapenko, ranked 47 and looking to reach a first Grand Slam semi-final, recovered to 5-4 with two breaks of her own, the Dane closed out the first set as she broke the Latvian to love in the next game.

However, Ostapenko responded in the second set, breaking the world No 12 twice as she moved 5-2 ahead before rain forced the players off.

Following a delay of the best part of three hours, the teenager closed out the set on her serve to level.

Wozniacki, who has never made the semi-finals of the French Open, led 2-1 again in the decider before another rain delay. Ostapenko, though, produced the required resolve when play resumed, with a double break putting her on the brink of victory, which she delivered when holding her serve to love as Wozniacki's return dropped wide.

Elation

The elation of the 19-year-old was clear as the feat of her achievement began to sank in, after a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over the 11th seed in just under two hours on court.

There was, though, tears of disappointment over on Philippe-Chatrier, where Mladenovic's hopes of becoming a first French champion since Mary Pierce in 2000 evaporated as she was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Timea Bacsinszky, the No 30 seed from Switerzland.

Ostapenko, who had defeated Australian Samantha Stosur in the last 16, and Bacsinszky are set to meet for a place in the final tomorrow - which will be a birthday for both players.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic's French Open quarter-finals will instead be held today after yesterday's torrential rain in Paris.

Andy Murray is also in action today in a reprise of last year's US Open quarter-final against Kei Nishikori.

Nishikori's highlight-reel strokes could be blunted by the slow, heavy conditions at Roland Garros in the past couple of days. And if this quarter-final turns into a contest of patience, Murray ought to have the edge. In the first set against Khachanov on Monday, he made just a single unforced error.

"The one thing we did when Ivan [Lendl, his coach] got here, we went right back to the basics," said Murray yesterday. "The drills we were doing were all very basic, but we spent a lot of time on the court. No time in the gym, really. It was just tennis, plain tennis."

French Open,

Live, ITV4/Eurosport 1, 12.30

Irish Independent

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