Undoubtedly one of the biggest stories in tennis this year has been the rise of Jelena Ostapenko, the Latvian who shocked virtually everyone with her French Open triumph last month.
Ostapenko ended 2016 ranked 44th and almost fell out the top 70 at some stages this season, though is now at a career high of 12th following her maiden Grand Slam win. There is no doubt that the 20-year-old, ranked seventh on the Race To Singapore, will be aiming to make her top ten debut in the coming months.
As previously mentioned, there is absolutely no doubt that her season highlight was her remarkable triumph at Roland Garros.
Ranked 47th heading into Paris, the Latvian beat Louisa Chirico in the opening round, before beating both Monica Puig and Lesia Tsurenko to reach the second week. In the fourth round, she battled past former finalist Samantha Stosur to reach the second round, before seeing off former world number one Caroline Wozniacki to reach the semifinals. There, she battled past Timea Bacsinszky to reach her maiden Grand Slam final, before she saw off Simona Halep in a thrilling final to win her maiden tour title.
Furthermore, Ostapenko backed up her French Open run at Wimbledon. The Latvian beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Francoise Abanda, and Camila Giorgi to make the second week, where she then saw off Elina Svitolina to reach the last eight; this saw her become the first woman since Kim Clijsters to win a maiden slam title and then reach the last eight of the next major tournament, though she fell at this stage to Venus Williams. Another big moment for Ostapenko was where she reached the final in Charleston, beating the likes of Caroline Wozniacki and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni before losing to Daria Kasatkina.
The Latvian has also had many other positive moments in 2017. She reached the semifinal of her first tournament of the year in Auckland, and also reached the last four in Prague during the clay court season. Ostapenko also managed to qualify for tournaments in Stuttgart and Rome; the only times this year she has been forced to qualify.
Despite all the high points this year, there have been some disappointing moments for the world number 12.
Ostapenko went through a rough patch during the early stages, losing in the first round of tournaments in St. Petersburg, Dubai, and Miami. The Latvian also fell in the second round in Indian Wells, and failed to make much of an impact in both the tournaments she qualified for, losing in the first round in Stuttgart and in the second round in Rome.
The Latvian has also had one or two tough losses. Her loss to Daria Kasatkina in the Charleston final was fairly poor, winning just four games against the Russian, whilst she has also suffered two extremely tight defeats this year to notable opposition. Following the French Open, Ostapenko fell in Eastbourne to Johanna Konta, with the Brit prevailing 7-5 in the third, though her biggest missed opportunity was at the Australian Open; after reaching the third round, she fell 10-8 in the third set to Karolina Pliskova despite twice serving for the match.
It will be extremely interesting to see how the rest of the season pans out for Ostapenko, especially considering her great form in the past couple of months.
There are undoubtedly some huge opportunities for the Latvian in terms of ranking points; she has less than 200 points to defend for the rest of the year. Considering she will get a good seeding for big events such as the Premier events in Toronto and Cincinnati, as well as the US Open where she fell in the first round last year, it would not be a surprise to see Ostapenko continue her incredible rise up the rankings.
Midseason Grade: A
There have undoubtedly been some disappointing results for Ostapenko in 2017, but it is hard to say that with a maiden Grand Slam title, a WTA final, a further Grand Slam quarterfinal and some other consistent results that this hasn’t been anything but a great season for the Latvian. Ostapenko has been an absolute revelation this year, and it seems that she is destined to continue her good form over the coming few months.