Jelena Ostapenko was the first to book her spot in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals as she eventually emerged victorious over Czech Petra Kvitova in an emotionally draining roller-coaster clash on Centre Court on Thursday afternoon.
The see-saw encounter saw both players get opportunities to run away with the match before they were reeled in by their opponent. Ostapenko seized on some wasted chances by the two-time Wimbledon champion while serving for the match in both the second and third sets. the Latvian took the clash on a tiebreak — which was a mini-epic itself with both players fending off match points — and registered a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (11-9) win.
Ostapenko admitted she has fallen victim to her emotions in the past but she has learnt to keep them in check as she has become a more mature player.
“That was my second long match in a row (she defeated Iga Swiatek in three sets on Wednesday amid some boisterous scenes from the Polish fans),” the 24-year-old said. “Petra played really well and we both had chances. I was 3-0 up at the start, then she was serving for the match in the second and third sets and also the tiebreak. I was trying just to fight and stay in the match, believe that I can win until the very last point.”
The world No. 25 insisted she is in a better place to cope with these matches than in the past.
“I do enjoy it because it’s not stressful but emotional,” Ostapenko said. “I started the match really well, then I started to rush little bit. but a win is a win. Before I used to get caught up in my emotions and stay that was for the whole of the set or the whole of the match if I am losing. Now, I get out of my emotions very quickly and I can shake them off.
“It’s just the beginning of the season. My goal is to be in top 10, maybe even higher. I’m not going to stop working, not going to stop, like, playing better, improving. I think it’s just the beginning for me, like in 2017, just to climb the rankings.”
Ostapenko was also glad to see an amicable crowd on Centre Court after a small section of Swiatek followers on Wednesday were a bit impolite to say the least, cheering for double faults and being “rude”.
“Today, honestly, the atmosphere was way nicer than yesterday,” she said. “Yeah, there were some Latvian fans, which was really nice to see. There were, of course, some Czech people. They were behaving also good, not like yesterday, clapping for double-faults and things like that.