111 minutes and that was all Jelena Ostapenko needed to overcome the tough challenge of the fellow talented youngster and the resurgent Belinda Bencic, withstanding a mid-match wobble to take the 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win for her first victory since January, snapping her three-match losing streak, to reach the third round at the BNP Paribas Open.
Ostapenko will now face the giant-killing Petra Martic before a meeting with one of the hard-hitting youngsters between Marketa Vondrousova and Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round. If the Latvian were to continue rolling through the draw, it would be a huge boost to her confidence especially after a slow start to the year.
Ostapenko steals the tight first set
It seemed like everything was clicking together for Ostapenko, whose rhythmic game is known for its explosiveness, and she was able to garner all her weapons and earn a break point in the second game while Bencic struggled with handling the pace of her shots. Ostapenko proceeded to earn her first break before the Swiss took the initiative, often changing defense into offense, redirecting the pace extremely well to get three games on the trot to level the scores at 4-4.
The ninth game was often crucial in many matches, and this time it wasn’t an exception. In what was the longest game in the match, Bencic grabbed four break points knowing that converting any of them could allow her to serve out the set. However, Ostapenko was rock solid on those points, playing some amazing tennis to remain composed and grab the impressive hold. Serving to stay in the set, Bencic threw away a 30-0 lead with an unfortunate double-fault coming on set point down, allowing Ostapenko to take the first set 6-4.
Bencic fights back, sends the match to the distance
It was a series of comfortable service hold to start the second set with before Ostapenko’s vulnerable second serves were brutally punished by Bencic, who took the lead in the fifth game after the Latvian failed to consistently find her first deliveries. The Swiss was more steady and held onto her lead, looking flawless on her serve having lost just lost five points off them throughout the set.
Ostapenko was then broken while serving at 3-5, with Bencic producing a screaming forehand winner off a 76 mph second serve from Ostapenko, sealing the second set 6-3 after just 33 minutes and sending the match to a deciding set.
Ostapenko strolls through the final set, seals the huge victory
All the momentum seemed to be with Bencic especially after breaking serve twice to take the second set before owning a commanding 40-0 lead in her opening service game of the deciding set. However, a slight misfocus from the Swiss saw her backhand fortress go AWOL in a blink of an eye, allowing Ostapenko to claim five consecutive points to grab the break. Getting the lead ensured that the Latvian could be relieved of some pressure, and she certainly rose in confidence after powering to a formidable double-break advantage which saw her open a 3-0 lead.
Although the changeover saw Bencic regaining her composure and coming up with a love break of her own, Ostapenko proved that she could do better as she exploited Bencic’s serves, limiting her to just six service points won in the final set. Furthermore, a shocking statistic revealed that the Swiss only won two out of 11 first-serve points in the decider. Failure to find her groove implied that Ostapenko strolled through the proceedings, bashing her way to a confidence-boosting victory over the talented Swiss after an hour and 51-minutes of play.