|Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko clenches her fist after scoring a point against Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)|
PARIS (AP) — With the unbridled joy of a kid reaching heights she never has, and the go-for-it strokes of someone too bold to know better, an unseeded 19-year-old from Latvia, Jelena Ostapenko, beat former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 at the French Open on a rainy Tuesday to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.
Ostapenko sent shots toward the lines and put them right where she wanted often enough to deliver 38 winners — 32 more than the defensive-minded Wozniacki, a two-time runner-up at majors.
“I knew,” the 47th-ranked Ostapenko said, “I had to be aggressive all match.”
Ostapenko’s next opponent is 30th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, who eliminated 13th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 6-4.
Both women’s quarterfinals were interrupted twice because of showers; the first delay lasted more than 3 hours, the second about a half-hour. The men’s quarterfinals involving Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic that had been scheduled for Tuesday were postponed until Wednesday.
When the women’s matches began, the wind averaged 18 mph (30 kph), with gusts up to 50 mph (85 kph), making balls swerve oddly. Serve tosses were an adventure. Players repeatedly wiped their eyes to get rid of dust kicked up from the clay court.
“We had all the seasons rolled into one today. We had a hurricane, a sandstorm, and we almost had snow, too,” Bacsinszky told the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier. “It was really tough to keep my concentration all day long. I feel exhausted — and I’m sure you do, too.”
Ostapenko had the most trouble in those conditions, quickly trailing 5-0.
She calibrated her strokes better as time went on, and the air swirled less, taking four games in a row to making the first set interesting before ceding it. Still, it was clear that she was up to the task against the 11th-seeded Wozniacki, who is 26 and has been to two U.S. Open finals and yet somehow seemed the less sure of herself.
Then again, this was a matchup that clearly suits Ostapenko: She is now 4-0 against Wozniacki.
Ostapenko’s rise has been swift.
A year ago, she lost in the first round of the French Open.
The year before that, she lost in the first round of French Open qualifying.
Before last week, she had never been past the third round of any Grand Slam tournament in eight appearances.
Now she will play for a berth in the final on Thursday, which just so happens to be Ostapenko’s 20th birthday, and Bacsinszky’s 28th.
For Bacsinszky, it will be only slightly more familiar territory. She has played in one previous major semifinal, also in Paris, losing to eventual champion Serena Williams two years ago.
“It’s the tournament closest to my heart,” Bacsinszky said. “I love to play here.”
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