(June 6, 2017) Nineteen-year-old Jelena Ostapenko, ranked 47th in the world, became the first Latvian to reach a major tournament semifinal on a rainy Tuesday in Paris when she defeated former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Ostapenko, who turns 20 on Thursday will play 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky next, who also has a birthday on June 8, except she’s eight years older. The Swiss Bacsinszky knocked out Paris fan favorite 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 6-4. This is the Swiss’ second Roland Garros semifinal, she reached the final four two years ago.
Ostapenko lost the first five games of the match against Wozniacki, won the next four in a row, only to be broken in the tenth game, giving the set to Wozniacki.
The Latvian, known for her aggressive play raced out to a 5-2 lead in the second set, when the rains came and delayed play twice – three hours and then a 30 minute delay. Her dominant play remained when the match resumed and she continued to paint the lines with winners and never looked back winning the second and third sets 6-2, 6-2.
“I had to be aggressive all match,” said the winner.
“Her shots are hard to read,” Wozniacki said to media.
“She goes for the lines. Going in, she’s tough to read, you don’t really feel comfortable. It’s hard to read her shots.”
Ostapenko hit 38 winners in the match raising her head-to-head record over the Dane to 4-0. She’s the youngest French Open semifinalist since 2007, when Ana Ivanovic reached the final four.
“We had all the seasons rolled into one today. We had a hurricane, a sandstorm, and we almost had snow, too,” Bacsinszky said to the crowd after her win over Mladenovic. “It was really tough to keep my concentration all day long. I feel exhausted – and I’m sure you do, too.”
“I knew she would be a formidable opponent.”
“Today I was very, very far from my best tennis and it was still a close two sets, I’d be silly not to be positive about that,” said a disappointed Mladenovic.
For Bacsinszky it’s her second semifinal at the French Open, she lost to Serena Williams in 2015. In the last three years, the Swiss reached the semis twice and the quarterfinals last year, clearly her best major. “It’s the tournament closest to my heart,” Bacsinszky said. Back in 2014 she had to go through qualifying at Roland Garros.
“To play a semifinal of Roland Garros on your birthday, I think it’s really nice,” said Ostapenko. “I hope I can enjoy it…When I came here I didn’t expect to be in the semis, but I’m playing better and better every match. I’m getting more confident, so if I keep it up, I think anything can happen.”
Both men’s quarterfinal matches including nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic were postponed until Wednesday.
The other two women’s quarterfinals which take place on Wednesday will feature No. 2 seed Czech Karolina Pliskova against the last remaining Frenchwoman No. 28 Caroline Garcia and No. 3 seed Simona Halep of Romania versus No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.