Former French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko, used not only her powerful serve, but her fierce forehand to bludgeon her way past Jo Konta in their second-round clash at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham.
I came into the match without any expectations, but I tried to play my game and be more aggressive. And I think that helped me to win today -- to be more aggressive, so I didn’t really give her time to play her game.” Jelena Ostapeno
Showing the sort of play which won her grand slam title, the Latvian kept the British No.1 on her backfoot throughout the contest to bring to an end Konta’s current run of excellent results 6-3 6-4.
Speaking after her loss, Konta said: “I knew going into the match that there was going to be every possibility that she was going to be playing like this and I was expecting it because there is no reason why she can’t play freely, and, when she does, she plays very well.
“I still thought I did quite a lot of good things out there, I just didn’t get an opportunity to do too much more .”
Ostapenko, who has struggled with injuries this season, commented: “It was a good match from my side. I had nothing to lose because Jo is in great form right now and she made the semis at Roland Garros. She is a very good player on grass. So, I came into the match without any expectations, but I tried to play my game and be more aggressive. And I think that helped me to win today — to be more aggressive, so I didn’t really give her time to play her game.”
Meanwhile the current Roland Garros champion, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, made her first foray onto the grass following her French Open victory and looked extremely comfortable on the surface as she took out last week’s Nottingham finalist, Donna Vekic 6-3 6-4 in her opening match.
The Croat started the more positively but the Aussie, now ranked world No.2, was quick to respond and take control despite a slight wobble when serving for her second-round place and a meeting with Jennifer Brady, a 6-3 6-3 winner over Lesia Tsurenko.
“It was the perfect first test for me. I knew that I had to be sharp and I had to be ready. Otherwise it wouldn’t even be a contest,” Barty said on court after her 71-minute triumph.
“It was nice and clean today out here. Donna’s obviously had phenomenal grass-court seasons in the past, and I’m sure she’ll be one to look for at Wimbledon.
“Obviously it’s a little bit different (to Roland Garros) but I love playing here, I love playing on the grass, and Birmingham for me I have such good memories from this beautiful court.
“I was just really excited to come back out and kind of dust off the cobwebs a little bit.”
Venus Williams, making her Birmingham debut, also progressed to round two as the 39-year-old eased past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 6-4.
The intriguing match between the Pliskova twins ended with Kristyna taking out her sister, the world No.3, Karolina, 6-2 3-6 -6(7) to progress into the quarter-finals.