02/09/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2019 12:03
Jelena Ostapenko christened Latvia's first ever home Fed Cup tie with a gritty 7-5 6-7(5) 6-1 victory over Rebecca Sramkova to move Latvia up 1-0 against Slovakia in Riga.
Despite the 166 ranking spots separating no.22 Ostapenko from no.188 Sramkova, who was drafted in late to replace an injured Viktoria Kuzmova, this is Fed Cup and it was immediately clear that a bitter scrap beckoned as Sramkova attacked Ostapenko's serve and moved up 5-2.
As Sramkova soared, Ostapenko sprayed errors and missed countless returns. But danger relaxed the Latvian as she found first serves and reigned in her groundstrokes, forcing Sramkova to attack. From 2-5 down, Ostapenko reeled off 5 games in a row to take the first set 7-5.
With her artillery finally firing, Ostapenko roared back from an early 1-3 deficit to break twice for a 4-3 lead in the second set. But Ostapenko's attempts to serve out the match at *5-4 simply elicited a further twist as she sprayed errors, dumping a backhand in the net to relinquish her serve. As a tiebreak beckoned, it was Sramkova who proved the bolder player when it mattered, landing booming forehand winners and attacking her serve. Sramkova coolly sealed the set with an ace.
Throughout her young career, Ostapenko has become accustomed to her streaky game producing topsy-turvy battles. She showed her experience and resilience by saving break point in the opening game, and then she finally relaxed. Ostapenko's finally forehand began to fire and her level elevated, and the 166 ranking spots separating the two finally showed. After 2 hours and 39 minutes, Latvia's golden girl secured their first ever point on home soil.