Varvara Lepchenko created a huge shock in the first round of the Rogers Cup as she prevailed in a 2 hours 40 minutes marathon against Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, recovering from 1-6 0-3 down to triumph in three tough sets, sending the Latvian out of the tournament.
Ostapenko dominates play and strolls to clinch the first set 6-1
Ostapenko made a firing start into the match as she was constructive on her backhand, allowing her to break serve easily in the opening game to take the early lead. Continuing to play some top-notch aggressive tennis, the Latvian comfortably consolidated the break and extended her lead to two games.
Earning a 40-15 lead in the next game, it seemed like Lepchenko was on course to get herself onto the scoreboard. However, Ostapenko did not give up and instead fought her way back to clinch her second straight service break to claim the perfect start. The Latvian then held her serve to love, opening up a formidable 4-0 lead.
Attacking the vulnerable second serves of Lepchenko without any mercy, Ostapenko further increased the deficit on the American as the Roland Garros champion was just too good for the underperforming Lepchenko, who fell behind 0-5 with the higher-ranked player owning the golden opportunity to serve out the bagel.
After an on-court coaching session, Lepchenko finally got herself onto the scoreboard just at the eleventh hour as she spared herself from more embarrassment, getting one of the breaks back to earn a consolation game. The loss of her service game did not seem to affect the mentality of the Grand Slam champion, breaking straight back to claim the first set 6-1 after just 28 minutes of play.
Lepchenko recover from three-game deficit to steal the second set
Lepchenko had an encouraging start to the second set as she managed to get to deuce on the return, but Ostapenko’s serve was just too good and powerful for her to handle as the American was unable to find a break point. In yet another close game, it was Ostapenko who prevailed once again as she saved a game point to get her fifth consecutive service break, getting the early advantage.
Once the Latvian fended off two break points to consolidate the break for a huge 3-0 lead in the second set, the match seemed to be over for Lepchenko with the scoreline being 1-6 0-3 for her point of view.
Everything seemed to be going wrong for the American, but with pure determination and fighting spirit, she managed to mount an improbable comeback from that point onwards. Firstly, she rattled off four straight games, breaking serve twice in a row and also fending off a break point to take the lead for the first time in the match.
A galore of breaks followed as both players were very inconsistent, starting to make countless unforced errors as the set had to be decided in a tiebreak eventually. After Ostapenko earned a mini break to lead 2-1, it was surprisingly one-way traffic for Lepchenko as she rattled off six consecutive points to send the match into a deciding set despite being down-and-out initially.
Lepchenko overcomes nerves to close out the match
Despite facing a break point in the opening game, the American as she narrowly held her serve to get the encouraging start to the final set. Unexpectedly, it was Lepchenko who made the first breakthrough as she battled from 30-0 down to take the first break of the decider with the help of several unforced errors by her opponent.
Ostapenko had no answers to the American’s inspired play as Lepchenko easily consolidated the break for a 3-0 lead, looking poised for the huge upset. Soon, the Latvian found herself just a game away from defeat as she went 3-5 down. However, some nerves proved to be costly for the former world number 19 as she was broken at the death, allowing the Roland Garros champion to return level on the scoreboard all of a sudden.
Fending off a pivotal break point at 5-5, Lepchenko managed to send the match into a deciding set tiebreak as Ostapenko looked to complete the comeback with the American having her own comeback to complete as well. The scores in the tiebreak were very tight, with not more than two points separating both players at any point of time.
However, with a determined fighting spirit, Lepchenko eventually claimed three straight points to come from 4-5 and a mini break down to clinch the huge upset and complete the amazing comeback, earning her first Top 20 victory since the 2016 US Open.