2021 Viking International Eastbourne

Ostapenko kills off Kontaveit with triumph

2021 Viking International Women's Champion Jelena Ostapenko

Former Grand Slam champion’s aggressive game shoots down Estonian ace

Jelena Ostapenko, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, showed her prowess on grass with a powerful 6–3 6–3 success over Anett Kontaveit to claim the Eastbourne crown as a wildcard entry.

The Marion Bartoli-coached 24-year-old, who scooped the 2014 Junior Wimbledon title, hit cruise control from the start and she grew in confidence after running away with the opening set.

The Latvian, who had reached the dizzy heights of world no.5 three years but languishes way outside the top 30, relied on her thunderous serve as the main weapon to register her maiden success in three meetings with Ostapenko.

She proved too strong in all departments, learning skills from ex-Eastbourne champion Bartoli — the French ace who divides her time as being a television pundit with coaching — who has helped Ostapenko develop her highly aggressive style of play.

“I was really mentally ready for it and I just tried to play my tennis. It’s great to have my name next to such great players.”

2021 Viking International Champion Jelena Ostapenko

The 2017 French Open champion’s all court game saw her breeze into a 4–1 second set lead against hard-hitter Kontaveit, a player ranked higher than her. Games were shared apiece with the Estonian serving to stay in the tournament, and Ostapenko sealing success but needed two matches points to triumph.

For Ostapenko this upturn in fortune, having failed to reach a quarter-final in her first dozen WTA Tour events this year, will give her a massive shot of confidence to springboard her attack on next week’s Wimbledon.

Some illustrious opponents were dismissed by Ostapenko with no.8 seed and Russia’s Roland Garros runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova sent packing in the opening round. Birmingham champion Ons Jabeur of Tunisia was her next victim, in-form Russian Daria Kasatkina and Kazakhstani French Open quarter-finalist Elena Rybakina followed as did Kontaveit.

Ostapenko said, “I just enjoyed this week so much and I think it’s great to win a title just before Wimbledon – it gives me confidence.

“I was just trying to come in without expectations and to just enjoy the tennis because I know Anett is such a great player and that it was going to be a difficult match.

“Next week I just want to go again without any expectation to not be hard on myself, recover as much as I can and just to enjoy it because I think I’ve got some confidence and now it’s time to show some good tennis at Wimbledon.”

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