Adelaide | Ostapenko stuns Kasatkina for WTA 500 title

Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko surged back into the world’s Top 10 for the first time since 2018 by stunning Russian Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 6-2, in the Adelaide International final, claiming her 7th WTA career title from 15 finals on Saturday night.

In all moments I tried to play aggressive, in deciding moments especially, to put pressure on her. I have the game to be there [in the Top 10] and I'm playing aggressively, I'm playing more consistently and I'm more mature as a player. I'm really, really happy ... also a bit tired but it's worth it. Jelena Ostapenko

The No 6 seed won the first set and broke at the start the second, but then had trouble getting across the finish line, needing 4 match points to get the job done after 76 minutes.

“This is great, I had some really tough matches this week,” said the former French Open champion after collecting her first title since Dubai in 2022. “I enjoyed every moment of playing here. I can’t wait to come back, it’s so nice to be in Australia.”

The Latvian has managed to win a title every year since 2021, and she has already extended her streak this year, winning the second WTA event that she entered in 2024.

In a year of come-backs, Ostapenko ensured her return into the Top 10 after 6 years, after winning her first WTA 500 tournament since 2022.

The 26-year-old Latvian has enjoyed a solid start to the 2024 season., opening her year by making the Brisbane quarter-finals and taking home the doubles title with Lyudmyla Kichenok.

Seeded No 6 in Adelaide, Ostapenko came through a tough draw to defeat Sorana Cirstea, Caroline Garcia, Marta Kostyuk, and Ekaterina Alexandrova, before tackling another in Kasatkina, who had to win just 2 matches en route to the final, as both Laura Siegemund and Jessica Pegula withdrew ahead of her quarter and semi-finals.

Daria Kasatkina was outclassed by Jelena Ostapenko in the final of the WTA 500 tournament in Adelaide

© Mark Brake/Getty Images

Going into the final, Ostapenko held a 5-2 advantage in their head-to-head, but Kasatkina won their only previous hard-court meeting, which came over 6 years ago in the 3rd-round of the US Open in 2017.

While the Russian may well have benefitted from some extra rest, she had few answers against Ostapenko, who started the final the better player and got herself an early break.

Although she lost her lead immediately, the 26-year-old added another, and controlled proceedings on her serve, losing only one more point in the remainder of the opening set.

Unseeded Kasatkina was the runner-up to Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in Adelaide last year, but after delivering an early scare, Ostapenko sealed the opening set with a neat drop-shot before leaping ahead by a break early in the second, courtesy of a tremendous 13th forehand winner.

Things did not get any better for Kasatkina, who struggled to trouble her opponent as Ostapenko simply dictated everything happening on the court, and the Russian could find no answers to combat her with.

The 2017 Roland Garros champion broke again for 4-1 after knifing a sensational, side-spinning backhand slice well beyond Kasatkina’s reach.

While the Russian clawed one of the breaks back, the gap was too great, and she finally pushed a forehand long to hand Ostapenko victory.

“I want to congratulate ‘Alona’ [Ostapenko] on a great week,” Kasatkina said. “I must say that we’ve had our issues with you before, but now I’m really happy we can be on the same stage in a peaceful environment and that’s great.”

It was a reference to the Latvian’s fiery temperament, which has at times dogged some of her matches.

Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina pose with their trophies after their final in Adelaide

© Mark Brake/Getty Images

The World No 12 blasted 32 winners to Kasatkina’s 12, Ostapenko’s fast-and-furious forehand wing devastating her outgunned opponent, who was also vying for her 7th title.

Ultimately, the difference came down to return efficiency, and Ostapenko broke serve in every game in which she saw a break point, taking Kasatkina’s serve 5 times in the match.

Although Kasatkina broke serve 3 times herself, she let the Latvian off the hook in 2 key return games.

From 2-2 in the first set, Ostapenko stopped a 2-game run from Kasatkina to break for a 3-2 lead.

She extended the lead to 5-2 before closing out the first set 2 games later with a perfectly feathered drop-shot for her 16th winner.

The patterns of play continued in the second set, with Kasatkina unable to keep the ball out of Ostapenko’s strike zone, and the Latvian eased through the set to seal the win after 1 hour and 15 minutes.

“In all moments I tried to play aggressive, in deciding moments especially, to put pressure on her,” Ostapenko said. “I have the game to be there [in the Top 10] and I’m playing aggressively, I’m playing more consistently and I’m more mature as a player.

“I’m really, really happy … also a bit tired but it’s worth it.”

Ostapenko took the scenic route to the silverware, overcoming particularly tricky early round contests with Cirstea and Garcia, while a leg injury forced her withdrawal from the doubles draw.

Ostapenko and Kasatkina now head to Melbourne for the Australian Open, which begins on Sunday, but both will get their 1st-round underway on Tuesday, when the Latvian will face Kimberly Birrell, while the Russian takes on Peyton Stearns.

Doubles champions Taylor Townsend & Beatriz Haddad Maia pose with their trophy on Friday

© Sarah Reed/Getty Images

In the doubles, Taylor Townsend & Beatriz Haddad Maia defeated Caroline Garcia & Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5 6-3, to win the title on Friday.

Townsend has now won 3 Adelaide doubles titles in the last 2 years, all with different partners. Last year, Townsend won Adelaide 1 with Asia Muhammed and Adelaide 2 with Luisa Stefani.



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