Linz | Ostapenko wins second WTA 500 title of the year in Austria

Top-seeded Jelena Ostapenko claimed her second WTA 500 title of the season at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz tournament on Sunday when she blitzed past Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-2 6-3, in just 70 minutes in the final.

A few years ago, I was in the final and I didn't get the trophy, but I think the trophy this year is so much nicer, and I'm so happy to have it. Jelena Ostapenko

With the win, the Latvian continues her sparkling season, with a 13-2 win-loss record, and levelled her head-to-head with Alexandrova at 5 wins apiece.

So far this year, Ostapenko is 2-0 against Alexandrova, having previously picked up a win over the Russian in last month’s Adelaide semi-finals, both wins coming en route to the Latvian collecting her two WTA 500 titles this season.

This has already become the first year in which Ostapenko has won multiple titles since her break-through season in 2017, when she claimed the first two titles of her career at Roland Garros and Seoul, plus she has now added the Australian Open doubles title to her resume in January.

“It was a really good week, and I felt, like every match, I was playing better and better,” Ostapenko said, after her win. “It’s really amazing to win two singles trophies this year already, and winning a doubles trophy as well, [and] playing Australian Open [doubles] final — it’s like four tournaments and four finals, which is really great.”

In a final between two past runners-up in Linz, the 2019 finalist Ostapenko defeated the 2018 finalist Alexandrova to win her 8th career WTA singles championship.

Returning to Linz for the first time since reaching that final in 2019, when Ostapenko lost the championship match to a young lucky loser named Coco Gauff, who went on to win her maiden WTA title in Austria, the Latvian needed to save a match point in the Round of 16 before overcoming Danish qualifier Clara Tauson.

Having survived, she dropped no more than 3 games in each of her subsequent sets en route to the title.

“I’m just happy with the way I’m playing this year,” she added. “I think I feel like I’m more mature and more confident with my game, so it even motivates me more to work hard and get back to the Top 10.”

Guest of Honour, Serbia's French Open champion and two-time Linz winner Ana Ivanovic (L) with Barbara Schett-Eagle, the Linz Ambassador on Sunday

© Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP/ via Getty Images

Two-time champion in Linz, Ana Ivanovic, was the guest of honour at the ceremonial coin toss ahead of the final, which was a clash between two power hitters, in which Ostapenko proved the more successful, with her 28 winners nearly doubling Alexandrova’s 15, but, despite that overwhelming aggression, the Latvian had only one more unforced error than the Russian.

Ostapenko broke in the opening set to go 3-1 up, and took a second and decisive break of serve to claim the set, despite having to use 3 set points to get it.

She saved the lone break point she faced all day, which came at 1-1 in the second, but the Latvian’s power precision game was on full charge and, she took the only break to go 3-1 up.

While she needed 3 championship points to advance, one on Alexandrova’s serve at 5-2 and two more on her own, she closed out the win with relative ease.

Her victory came 14 years after Ivanovic had won the event for the second time.

In high spirits during the trophy ceremony in Linz, Ostapenko said she was ecstatic at getting her hands on the new trophy, a custom-made gold piece by Swarovski that features 8,100 hand-set crystals.

“A few years ago, I was in the final and I didn’t get the trophy, but I think the trophy this year is so much nicer, and I’m so happy to have it,” the 26-year old said before going on to express her gratitude towards the crowd and complimenting her opponent, Alexandrova.

Ostapenko dropped out of the Top 10 after the Australian Open, but with Karolina Muchova not playing at the moment being less than 100 points behind, she could return after Abu Dhabi, which she will play next week.

Sara Errani (R)i & Jasmine Paolini upset top seeds, Nicole Melichar-Martinez & Ellen Perez to win the Linz doubles title on Sunday


Later on Sunday, unseeded Italians Sara Errani & Jasmine Paolini surprised the No 1 seeds, America’s Nicole Melichar-Martinez & Ellen Perez from Australia, 7-5 4-6 [10-7], to land the Linz doubles title.

Errani & Paolini took an hour and 33 minutes to eke past the top seeds and claim their second WTA doubles title as a partnership, having also teamed up to win WTA 250 Monastir last year.

A former WTA Doubles World No 1, Errani has won 29 WTA doubles titles in her career, including 5 Grand Slam championships, while Paolini, the current top-ranked Italian in singles, has now accrued 3 WTA doubles titles.

Linz runner-up Ekaterina Alexandrova endured a 3-hour semi-final battle on Saturday and found Jelena Ostapenko too hot to handle in the final on Sunday

© Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP/ via Getty Images



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