Linz | It’s an Ostapenko v Alexandrova WTA 500 final in Austria

Top-seeded Jelena Ostapenko swept aside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the final of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz WTA 500 where she will meet Ekaterina Alexandrova, who needed 3 sets to get past Donna Vekic in their semi-final on Saturday.

For me, tiebreaks, we have a hard relationship, especially in the last set. Even when it’s 1-5 and she was up with the break, I just still continued playing every single point, no matter what. The most valuable thing for me from this match - yes, it’s amazing to be in the final - but [that I] can still win after that moment, it’s just amazing. Ekaterina Alexandrova

Ostapenko’s 6-2 6-3 win over Pavlyuchenkova sees the Latvian reach her second final of the year, having won the title in Adelaide last month.

“I was very happy with the way I was serving,” Ostapenko said, having finished the match with back-to-back service winners. “I expected a tough match, and I knew it was going to be hard.

“[Pavlyuchenkova is] a great player and she’s been playing very well recently.”

Ostapenko’s win-loss record for 2024 now stands at 12-2, and she is a win away from her 8th career title and a spot in the Top 10.

En route to the final, Ostapenko saw off Denmark’s Clara Tauson, 3-6 6-4 7-6(7), before defeating British qualifier Jodie Burrage with ease, 6-1 6-2, who has since had to pull out of next week’s Transylvania Open due to injury.


Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had 7 break points against Jelena Ostapenko but failed to convert and lost in straight sets in the Last 4

© Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP/ via Getty Images

Pavlyuchenkova had a tougher run in seeing off Martina Trevisan from Italy, 6-4 6-0, British No 1 Katie Boutler, 7-6(2) 6-4m and Elise Mertens, the 4th seeded Belgian, 6-3 6-2, to reach the Last 4, and the Russian’s reward will be a return to World’s Top 40.

The semi-final contest saw some lights-out tennis featuring 10 aces over just 9 service games.

Ostapenko’s power-heavy game was on full show as she outpaced Pavlyuchenkova, who was unable to break despite having 7 chances to do so, while the Latvian broke her Russian opponent twice in the first set and once in the second to make her 16th career WTA Final.

In the end, the 2017 Roland Garros champion needed only an hour and 13 minutes to grab her 5th win over Pavlyuchenkova in their 6 career meetings on the Hologic WTA Tour, effectively the more dominant of the two power-hitters, with 34 winners to just 10 from the Russian.

Although pressed on serve early in the encounter, facing 7 break points during the first 5 games, Ostapenko fended each of those chances off, and she was able to romp through the opening set, and then the match from there.


No 2 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova squeaked past 3rd-seeded Donna Vekic, needing 3 sets and 2 breakers to prevail on Saturday

© Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP/ via Getty Images

It will be the Linz two top seeds who face off in the final, as Alexandrova eventually saw off Vekic, the No 3 seed from Croatia, in a 3-set thriller earlier on Saturday, edging through 5-7 7-6(4) 7-6(6) after a gruelling 3-hour and 6-minute semi-final battle.

Alexandrova was a set and a break down, and also trailed 1-5 in the third-set tiebreak before prevailing, and finished with 51 winners, including 12 aces, to level her head-to-head with Vekic at two wins apiece.

Vekic won the 58-minute first set, and she was twice up a break in the second, but Alexandrova pulled back on serve at 4-4 with a winning backhand drive volley, and saved 3 break points at 5-5 en route to a 2nd-set tiebreak.

In the first breaker of the day, Alexandrova slammed an ace to reach triple set point at 6-3, and while the Croatian saved that with a winning drop-shot, she fired a backhand wide on the second, and the match was level at a set apiece after just over 2 hours of play.

In the decider, it was Vekic’s turn to come back from a break down on two separate occasions, as the pair moved into a decisive final-set tiebreak.

Vekic grabbed the 5-1 lead in this breaker, helped along by an Alexandrova double-fault, but the Russian’s big hitting let her rebound, and she garnered her first match point at 6-5.

After the Croatian saved that chance with a forehand winner, Alexandrova secured another match point at 7-6, and then fired one last unreturned serve to seal the win.


Donna Vekic came from 2 breaks down in the decider against Ekaterina Alexandrova, but narrowly lost in the final set breaker

© Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP/ via Getty Images

The 29-year-old Russian is now one win away from her 5th WTA singles title.

“For me, tiebreaks, we have a hard relationship, especially in the last set,” Alexandrova said with a laugh “Even when it’s 1-5 and she was up with the break, I just still continued playing every single point, no matter what.

“The most valuable thing for me from this match — yes, it’s amazing to be in the final — but [that I] can still win after that moment, it’s just amazing.”

Alexandrova returns to the Linz championship match, having made her first career WTA singles final at the 2018 edition of this tournament.

Ostapenko and Alexandrova have met 9 times in their professional careers, with Alexandrova holding a slim 5-4 lead in their rivalry, but the Latvian has already defeated the Russian this season in the Adelaide semi-finals.



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