Jelena Ostapenko stayed true to her word by taking in one game at a time in the UAE — and she walked away with the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title to her name.
The Latvian began the tournament a little coy, delighted at two fans waving burgundy and white in a wave of adversity. There were some nasty Polish fans, patriotic Czechs and flag-waving Romanians to overcome before she took on Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova on Saturday. In the end, a hoarse 24-year-old emerged top of the pile and with every neutral fan firmly in her camp around the stadium in Garhoud.
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The fighter won her first hard-court title since 2019 with a dominant 6-0, 6-4 victory over Veronika Kudermetova in the final on Saturday in front of a packed crowd in Garhoud.
The former French Open champion needed just 64 minutes to overcome Russian world No. 31 and capture the fifth singles trophy of her career.
“When I’m in the final, I always want to win because, as many people say, people remember only winners,” she said. “It’s always annoying to lose in the final. I really was focusing, really ready for a battle today. Very focused the whole match I think, especially in the beginning and I played really well. It’s just great to finish the week with a title.”
Ostapenko marched to the final by defeating four Grand Slam champions — Sofia Kenin, Iga Swiatek, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep — and having come back from a set down in her three previous matches.
The 24-year-old — the 2017 Roland Garros champion herself — seems to be well on her way back to the top 10 on this showing ahead of Doha.
Kudermetova knew she was outclassed as she went down to Ostapenko.
“I think Jelena played very well today,” the Russian said. “She played very aggressive from the beginning. She did not give me any chances. She played only winners.
“I know I can play better, but today it did not work. Today was not my day. I didn’t find my game.
After the ‘bagel’ in the first set, Kudermetova fought bach but came up short in the second.
“From the beginning of the second, I tried to play more balls inside of the court,” she said. “I tried to fight and show my emotion. I tried to do everything. but it was not enough.
“Hey, I beat a lot of good players — Azarenka and Muguruza — and it was very emotional for me out there. Maybe I was not ready mentally for a final like today. But I hope I can take a lesson from that final and next time I will do better.”
Kudermetova got a measure of solace as she overcame the same opponent in the WTA doubles final with a 6-1, 6-3 victory alongside Elise Mertens. This time Ostapenko had to accept second place with teammate Lyudmyla Kichenok, as the second seeds proved too strong.