"I enjoyed it so much to play here...to finish the win with a title means so much," Jelena Ostapenko smilingly said to the fans and crowd on hand. It was the first time she'd play Luxembourg and her odds for success now are good, winning a title on the first try.
But the rosey-cheeked Latvian had a few more plus marks up her sleeve than her opponent, Germany's Julia Goerges who she dismantled at 6-4, 6-1 grabbing the title. Despite her performances lacking consistency for victories this year, she did land in a few finals in doubles.
It obviously gave her the self-confidence to do well alone but splitting from her coach and deciding to pick up former player Marion Bartoli seems like the best choice she's made all year. David Taylor had been with Ostapenko for six months but when the wins slowed down and the mantra fell off, Taylor was out.
She'd met with Bartoli and struck up an agreement for her to coach at Linz for a start. A few years ago Ostapenko might have been at the top of her game entering the French Open to not only do well, but win her first grand slam title, defeating Simona Halep.
Since then, her career has been a see-saw until now. Luxembourg is her third singles title in seven years turning pro. But she is prone to having too many double faults and then changing coaches could be the troubles for her failure at accumulating more success.
In picking up Marion Bartoli at Linz, her fortunes seemed to have changed as she reached her first semifinal of the season, but losing the final to Cori Gauff. Ostapenko feels the momentum picking up as she clutched her Luxembourg trophy in her hands.
But she did the walk and the talk by playing aggressive against Julie Goerges, far more than she has in the past with others. The Latvian walked on calmly with her trinkets bouncing at the end of her racket bag. At the start there were a few glitches of Goerges having winning volleys but with the games tied at 4-all, the German started to become unraveled in momentum and power.
Ostapenko sliced drop shots and opened up the court for winners to prove victory at 6-4 in the first set. The young Latvian gained more confidence as Goerges started her unforced error trek giving Ostapenko a 4-1 lead in the second set.
The German tried to bring it together with a few powerful blasts, strategies left over from her nine-match winning streak, seeming to be too little, too late. Jelena Ostapenko won the set 6-1, the match and title, her third career one.
This win is an indicator of possible continued collaboration of Bartoli with Ostapenko. Looking down the road, there is a light at the end of a once dreary tunnel about to shine bright. Ostapenko knows she must keep up her pace, come on aggressive and soon she'll be back to her steaming game with many wins coming her way.