French Open champion and 13th seed Jelena Ostapenko made her maiden Wimbledon quarterfinal on Monday, battling past fourth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 7-6(6) to become the first woman since Kim Clijsters to win her first Grand Slam title and reach the last eight of the next slam.
It was not a polished performance by Ostapenko, who made 39 unforced errors and lost a 5-2 lead in the second set, though the Latvian also hit 42 winners and saved 11 of the 15 break points against her as she proved just too strong on her second week debut, with Svitolina failing to take advantage of several opportunities.
Ostapenko will face tenth seed Venus Williams in the last eight.
Ostapenko proves too strong for wasteful Svitolina
This was always going to a big-hitting contest, and it was Ostapenko who was striking the ball best in the opening stages, breaking to start the match and digging herself out of a 15-30 hole to consolidate out on Court 12. Svitolina was able to get on the board, though Ostapenko toughed out another hold to remain in front, and the 13th seed took advantage of some poor serving by the Ukrainian to put herself a double break up after just 15 minutes.
Despite being a naturally aggressive player herself, Svitolina was being completely bullied out on court by the Latvian’s sheer power and extremely impressive forehand, though managed to take advantage of some poor errors play by the French Open champion to pull two games back, and seemingly get herself back in the set. Ostapenko was clearly wobbling a little, though saved three break point to remain in front, and then gave Svitolina’s serves a real beating as she broke to take the opening set.
There was no doubt that Svitolina, also making her second week debut at Wimbledon, had missed a huge opportunity towards the end of the opening set, though it seemed that she had recovered from any disappointment as she came through a tight game to break at the very beginning of the second set. However, just as she had been all match, the Ukrainian struggled when serving, and it wasn’t too long before Ostapenko broke back and put herself in front with one of her best service holds of the match.
Missed opportunities would eventually become the story of Svitolina’s day. After leveling things up in the second set, the fourth seed missed five break points on the Latvian’s serve, before Ostapenko broke for a 4-2 lead in the decider. It was hardly a flawless performance by Ostapenko, but it was her who was converting her chances The Latvian, looking assured of herself as she had done throughout most of the match, held to put herself a game away from victory. However, things were not straightforward for Ostapenko, with Svitolina saving five match points over the next two games to break back.
By now it seemed that Ostapenko had lost focus, and that seemed to be the case as Svitolina easily took the next two games to put herself in the position to serve for the second set. The Ukrainian built up a 30-0 lead, though once again failed to take advantage of a huge opportunity, with Ostapenko breaking back to force a tiebreak. The Latvian fell 3-1 down in a hard-fought breaker, though fought back and finally converted an eighth match point to seal a tough win.