French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko vows to keep hitting big

Jelena Ostapenko ended the tournament with 299 winners -- more than any other woman or man at the tournament.

Published: 11th June 2017 12:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2017 12:21 AM   |  A+A-

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko clenches her fist after scoring a point against Romania's Simona Halep during their women's final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris. | AP


PARIS: Shock French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko said she will keep true to her fearless, big-hitting game in the confident belief that more Grand Slam titles are just around the corner.

The 20-year-old, a virtual unknown before the start of Roland Garros, fired 54 winners and 54 unforced errors past Simona Halep in her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win on Saturday.

The Latvian ended the tournament with 299 winners -- more than any other woman or man at the tournament.

"I always had the possibility I could hit the ball really hard. If I have a chance to go for a shot, I'm trying for it," said Ostapenko, just the third woman born in the 1990s to capture a Slam title.

"Nobody taught me. It's just the way I play. And also I think my character is like that. So I want to really hit the ball."

Her "live by the sword, die by the sword" approach worked wonders on Saturday when she was 3-1 down in both the second and third sets.

Her big hitting is also a testament to her favourite player Serena Williams, whose sheer force of will and raw power have been key elements in her success.

Ostapenko described the American, a three-time champion in Paris, as "an idol".

"She' a great champion. I think she's playing probably similar to my style, so she was my idol."

The former Wimbledon junior champion says she is looking forward to playing at the All England Club again next month where she made the second round two years ago.

But she doesn't want to stop there.

"I would like to win all of the Grand Slams. It's my goal," said Ostapenko who spends up to six hours a day on court in practice.

Her win on Saturday, which was also her first main tour career title, came in just her eighth Slam appearance.

She is the first unseeded player to win Roland Garros since 1933 and the lowest-ranked champion.

The French Open, she added, was always the major she dreamed of winning, from the time she strolled around the grounds as a 12-year-old and taking in the history at the museum.

From those early days she progressed to juniors and second-tier ITF events, playing in front of just a handful of people.

All a far cry from the 15,000 people who witnessed a new star being born in the baking sun on Philippe Chatrier court on Saturday.

"I'm just going to try to work hard but I think if I have a really good day and I'm hitting really well, I think anything is possible."


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