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Ostapenko: Seize The Day

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Dancing and tennis are Jelena Ostapenko’s passions that propelled her in a coming of age performance at Roland Garros.

Six years ago, a fearless 47th-ranked Ostapenko slugged her way into history winning the 2017 Roland Garros to become the first Latvian Grand Slam champion.

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The 17th-seeded Ostapenko showed her closing power on Monday night high-stepping through six straight games to wrap a 6-3, 7-5 Roland Garros first-round win over Tereza Martincova.

Empowered by her run to the Rome semifinals earlier this month, Ostapenko joins two-time champion Iga Swiatek and 2021 singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova, whom the Latvian swept in Rome, as one of three former singles champions in the French Open field.


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When she's on her game, the explosive Ostapenko can hit through any woman on tour, including world No. 1 Swiatek. Ostapenko is 3-0 lifetime vs. Swiatek though they've yet to square off on red clay. When she's off her game, Ostapenko can hit her way into oblivion.

So what's the secret to riding streakiness to Slam success?

The 25-year-old Ostapenko says it's simple: seize the day. Ostapenko says she accepts the fact she'll have more bad days at work than good days and tries to make the best of bad days.

Tennis Express

"Honestly, probably all of the players have more bad days than good days. It's normal," Ostapenko said. "I mean, you cannot have every single day good day, but the most important is even if it's not your day to manage it from a bad day to make it a good day.

"So that's, I think, what matters a lot. That's what makes players to be on the top."

Next up for Ostapenko is 21-year-old American Peyton Stearns.

The winner of that match will meet either ninth-seeded Daria Kasatkina or former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova for a spot in the fourth round.

Since her run to the 2017 title, Ostapenko has yet to return to the round of 16, failing to surpass the second round in four of the last five years.

Still, Ostapenko feels if she can turn bad to good then better days in Paris are ahead.

"I always wanted to be different from everyone," Ostapenko said. "Of course, I'm very emotional on court sometimes, and maybe sometimes I don't do the right things, but it's very hard for me because I'm in general an emotional person.

"And when I play, of course, I'm working on it. But when I play, of course, also I feel that I can achieve a lot of things. And I'm a perfectionist too, so if something doesn't really go my way, I really get pissed, and this gets into emotions because I really want to make it perfect, but you cannot always make it perfect.

"Because, as I said, probably there are more bad days for athletes because we're tired and jet lag and all the things. The most important is to make from a bad day a good day."

Photo credit: Getty