Jelena Ostapenko won the battle of two former French Open champions to lift the Rothesay Classic, the WTA 250 in Birmingham, on Sunday, when she upset Barbora Krejcikova, 7-6(8) 6-4, in the final.
She [Krejcikova] is a great player and congratulations to her and her team on what has been a great week. Hopefully we will play many more finals, and I wish you good luck in Eastbourne and Wimbledon. Jelena Ostapenko
Krejcikova, the World No 12, had cruised into the final without dropping a set all week, ensuring her return to the Top 10 on Monday, while Ostapenko had battled through 4 three-setters to make the Last 2.
The Latvian, though, showed no signs of fatigue as she claimed her first title of the season.
“I played five great matches, this was the only match in two sets, thankfully, because every match was really tough,” said Ostapenko, who also played the doubles event and lost in the quarters. “These matches give you confidence, and I’m happy with the way I’ve continued to fight, day in day out.
“It’s a great preparation for Wimbledon.”
The No 2 seed won her first title in Birmingham, adding the Maud Watson trophy to her growing portfolio and equalling Krejcikova’s tally of 6 titles, following the Czech’s win at the Masters 1000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships earlier this season.
This is Ostapenko’s second title on British grass, having won the Rothesay International at Eastbourne in 2021.
The 2017 French Open champion had a tough draw this week, dispatching Linda Noskova, superstar Venus Williams, Magdalena Frech, and Anastasia Potapova, all in marathon 3 sets but she needed only an hour 51 minutes to fend off a second-set come-back from 5-1 down by Krejcikova, the 2021 Roland Garros victor.
“It was a very tough week, and I never have easy draws, so every match was difficult,” Ostapenko said. “Some matches I had to come back from a set down, but I managed to win them and that’s the most important thing.
“Just to fight for every single point, and to play until the very last point. I’m just really proud of myself the way I fought. That’s probably the key, which brought me the title here.”
Both settled into the match from the get-go, holding to love in 3 successive games before Ostapenko earned herself a first point on the Krejcikova serve, but the Czech deflected it before winning 2 break points of her own.
A total of 3 break points came and went, with little separating the two former Grand Slam champions, each dropping just 7 points on serve at 6-5.
As they battled from the baseline, a first set tiebreak was needed to settle the matter.
Ostapenko used her power to grab the upper hand in a couple of pivotal rallies, which gave her a 6-4 lead and double set point, but Krejcikova saved them both, as well as a 3rd at 7-6, and the Czech garnered her own set point at 8-7 after drawing errors from the Latvian.
Erasing that chance with a backhand cross-court winner, Ostapenko regained level footing at 8-8, and then reached 9-8, grabbing her 4th set point by slamming a forehand winner down the line.
The Latvian converted that opportunity, prevailing in a rally to take the first set after 58 minutes of enthralling play.
In the second, Ostapenko saw a commanding 5-1 lead narrowed to 5-4 as Krejcikova staged a last-minute fight-back.
The Czech’s double-faults had tripled, and the points won on her second serve dwindled, while the Latvian was now keeping her unforced errors to a minimum.
Krejcikova fought back to narrow the deficit to 5-4, but it was too little, too late, for the top seed, and Ostapenko served out for the title at the second time of asking in just short of 2 hours, closing out the win with a forehand winner down the line.
“She is a great player and congratulations to her and her team on what has been a great week,” Ostapenko said of Krejcikova at the presentation ceremony. “Hopefully we will play many more finals, and I wish you good luck in Eastbourne and Wimbledon.”
Both finalists will play in the Rothesay International event at Eastbourne this coming week.
While Kvitova is set to play Britain’s new No 1, Katie Boulter, Ostapenko will go head-to-head with the defending Eastbourne champion, Petra Kvitova, who is also in top form after winning the bett1open in Berlin on Sunday.
In the final at Edgbaston Priory Club, each player won 75% of their first-service points, but Ostapenko was more effective behind her second serve, winning two-thirds of her second-service points, while Krejcikova only won half of her own.
Ostapenko now holds a 5-2 lead in her head-to-head with Krejcikova.
Krejcikova did take home one title this week, as she teamed up with Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk to defeat Australia’s Storm Hunter & Alycia Parks from the USA, 6-2 7-6(7), in the Rothesay Classic doubles final later on Sunday.
No 2 seeds Kostyuk & Krejcikova bested the No 3 seeds, Hunter & Parks, in 1 hour and 28 minutes, twice coming back from a break down in the second set.
Kostyuk & Krejcikova held 4 consecutive match points at 6-2 in the second-set tiebreak, but Hunter & Parks swept 5 points in a row to grab a set point at 7-6, but Kostyuk & Krejcikova regrouped and took the next 3 points to emerge victorious.
It is the 17th WTA doubles title for former doubles World No 1 Krejcikova, and the second WTA doubles title for Kostyuk.