By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – When Jelena Ostapenko traveled home to Latvia following her bolt-from-the-blue triumph at the French Open, she was flying high after being invited to sit in the cockpit with the captain for the journey.
On Monday, her feet initially barely touched the ground as she soared past Belarussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the opening set but eventually had to settle for a topsy-turvy 6-0 1-6 6-3 first round win to equal her best showing at Wimbledon.
The 20-year-old’s match against the 89th-ranked Sasnovich was switched from Court Three to 18 at short notice after Local hope Aljaz Bedene and Ivo Karlovic’s marathon tussle stretched into a fifth set.
The change of venue did little to unsettle the 13th seed as she walloped Sasnovich in 23 blinding minutes to take the opening set.
But Ostapenko, the 2014 junior champion at the All England Club, began misfiring her fast-and-furious groundstrokes and it was Sasnovich’s turn to run away with the second set.
With the light fading fast and the scoreboard glowing bright yellow in the gathering gloom, Ostapenko appeared to be in a rush to finish off proceedings.
That ploy initially backfired as she was broken the first time she served for the match but she made no mistake two games later, firing an unreturnable serve on her fourth match point with her day-glo green racket.
“It got dark when it was like 5-1 for me in the third set and I just wanted to finish one game because I didn’t really want to come tomorrow to play only one game,” said Ostapenko, who belted 24 winners and converted six of eight break points.
Next up for Ostapenko is fellow 20-year-old Francoise Abanda from Canada.
(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, Editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)