"It is quite frustrating to be on the court against her because it felt like any mistake I made had a bigger consequence just because I had so few opportunities..." Johanna Konta said after her defeat from the former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Both players were fighting to get out of the stigma of losing. Konta unfortunately never has been past the second round of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. Ostapenko hasn't had good luck much of this 2019 with not getting past the second round of any tournament.
This would be someone's telltale match and it turned out to be Ostapenko's victory. In starting her round of 16 with Johanna Konta, Ostapenko took a 4-1 lead in the opening set. The Latvian had taken control of the match right away with having cross courting wins over the Brit.
She felt confident and served an ace to the Italian Open finalist to end the first set 6-3 at Birmingham. By now, Konta felt she had to redeem herself in front of her home country and fellow British fans but it was difficult.
Ostapenko was soon up only a break, but Konta's ability to predict the Latvian's ball movements was poor. The Brit wanted to do more and explained that "I still thought I did quite a lot of good things out there, I just didn't get an opportunity to do too much more."
Ostapenko won over Konta 6-3, 6-4 and felt renewed that her game and strategies were coming together again. Contrary to winning the 2017 French Open, Ostapenko's resume during this 2019 clay court season was not very successful.
It was nearly every tournament she would lose her singles matches in the opening round except for the Madrid Open where she made it through the second round to lose in straight sets to Kiki Bertens. But playing doubles was another situation where she was successful and rose to the quarter and semifinals of many events.
Many expected her to do well in the French Open since her title win a few years ago, but it wasn't to be as she bowed at the hands of Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. Ostapenko had luck at Wimbledon and started her good times on grass when she won the 2014 Wimbledon Junior Championship.
It was in 2015 that she would then defeat 9th seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, her first win ever of a top 10 player. The following year at the Aegon Classic, Ostapenko defeated Petra Kvitova in the second round and reached the semifinal mixed doubles at Wimbledon with Oliver Marach.
She also felt confident and in 2017 got to the Wimbledon quarters losing to Venus Williams. Last year she also reached the quarters at Wimbledon and go to the semifinals, the first time in her career. It was easy to see how she brought into the court a ton of confidence and self-assurance that the grass season would be quite the turnaround than she miserably felt during clay court times.
Jelena Ostapenko will need the mental and physical stamina to stay focused and determined. It's very soon she'll need that extra push to go deep in the grass warm-ups in preparing for one of her favourite tournaments of the year -- Wimbledon.