Ostapenko battles past Cristian in French Open first round

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko reacts after winning her first round match against Romania's Jaqueline Cristian Sunday at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris. (Stephanie Lecocq/REUTERS)

PARIS (Reuters) — Former champion and ninth seed Jelena Ostapenko overcame a rusty start in both sets to beat Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian 6-4 7-5 and reach the second round of the French Open on Sunday.

The Latvian claimed her one Grand Slam title in Paris in 2017, but since then has failed to advance past the third round at Roland Garros.


“Of course I’m more mature now, it’s a good thing and maybe it’s a bad thing a bit,” Ostapenko said after the win.

“When I played in 2017 I was kind of fearless so I’m working to get that thing back and the most important thing is just to play without any thoughts.”

Ostapenko lost serve in the opening game and failed to force a break point until 3-2 down. Cristian held on to retain her two game advantage before Ostapenko bounced back in style.

“It was not an easy match. I think in general I played well just in games I was rushing a bit too much,” Ostapenko said.

Ostapenko won the next four games to take the first set, but it was the Romanian who broke first again in the second set and held a 3-2 lead. But Ostapenko again came back and broke twice to go 5-3 up and with the chance of serving for the match.

Cristian was not about to roll over, and although Ostapenko saved three break points, the 25-year-old Romanian, making her French Open debut, broke and then held serve to level the set at 5-5.

Ostapenko then served to love to put the pressure back on Cristian and the Latvian finished in style, breaking to love as the Romanian double faulted to exit the tournament.

“She’s a great player, she was fighting for every ball and she was playing really well, but it was more about me, as I said I was rushing and first rounds are always tricky,” the Latvian said.

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