By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Jelena Ostapenko is clearly not one to rest on her laurels.
Less than a month after turning women’s tennis upside down with an audacious run to the French Open title, she is at it again on the lawns of the All England Club.
Her 7-5 7-5 victory over Italy’s Camila Giorgi means the feisty 20-year-old is only four wins away from completing what would be astonishing French Open/Wimbledon double.
That would put her in the same company as Serena Williams and Steffi Graf, the only two players to achieve one of the toughest tasks in tennis in the last 20 years.
Her mother, and coach, also Jelena, said it might finally sink in that her daughter is a grand slam champion if she wins another one – and with the women’s draw wide open it would be dangerous to bet against the Latvian livewire.
“I’m just trying to play free, not to think too much,” Ostapenko said. “After French I’m more confident, so I’m playing every match better and better. I think I play aggressive. I control the matches. I feel pretty consistent.”
Her game still veers between rasping winners – a relatively conservative, by her standards, 24 against Giorgi – and unforced errors which would not look out of place at a local club.
That explains why her last eight matches, including her French Open final win against world number two Simona Halep, went to three sets.
Two sets sufficed on Friday, although Giorgi will be wondering how she did not at least take a set.
The Italian, ranked at 86 after reaching 30 two years ago, served for the first set at 5-3 but a double-fault and a backhand error allowed Ostapenko back in and she exacted full punishment by breaking again to win the set.
Ostapenko lost her cool at times and scowled across to Giorgi’s box where she later said someone was coughing at vital moments.
“It was just before my serve, somebody started to cough. I think it’s a little bit unsportsmanlike,” she said.
“You’re in such a high level, and the tournament like Wimbledon, a grand slam, I think people have to understand where they are.”
There is no lack of passion from Ostapenko and she also let rip at her coaching team, including Spanish WTA player Anabel Medina Garrigues, as she fell 5-2 behind in the second set after a Giorgi ace, according to Hawkeye, had kissed a line.
Ostapenko steadied herself though to hold the next game and left Giorgi in familiar territory, serving for the set at 5-3.
But in a mirror image of the first set the Italian fired another double-fault and Ostapenko pounced to snatch back the break with a clubbing backhand winner.
There was no stopping Ostapenko after that as she allowed her opponent only three more points – roaring with delight and pumping her fists as Giorgi netted a backhand to lose the match.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)