2021 Viking International Eastbourne

Ostapenko storms past Rybakina for a shot at maiden grass crown

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist dominates baseline battle

Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, made hard work of dispatching Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina 6–4 6–1 in a sluggish semi-final.

The former Wimbledon semi-finalist reached her maiden WTA Tour final this season, where she will face Anett Kontaveit after the Estonia was gifted victory following the retirement of Italian qualifier at 5–4.

Ostapenko, who has looked amazing comfortable on grass this week, soared into a rapid 3–0 lead. But she was soon pegged back from this early cushion, and creaked along to 5–4.

Rybakina took a medical time out for a sore back, but this failed to break Ostapenko’s momentum. She was in no mood to be distracted to confidently secure the set on her service game in a fraction under an hour.

The battle between the hard-hitting baseliners never set the Centre Court alight, with a surprisingly subdued ambiance. As Rybakina was clearly troubled by the injury, it became a breeze for Ostapenko to run away with the second set that ended with a double fault.

Ostapenko has worked wonders to reach the final bearing in mind her wayward serve, which has seen far too many double faults. She saw off Russia’s no.8 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkovano in the opening round, beat Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur — last week’s Birmingham champion — then halted Russian Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-final before destroying out-of-sorts Rybakina.

The 24-year-old will expect to be crowned champion to claim her first grass court title ahead of the Championships at SW19, while six-footer Rybakina now prepares for her Wimbledon debut.

Result | Ostapenko 6–4 6–1

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