Ostapenko keeps Latvian hopes alive with Fed Cup victory over Kenin
After falling to a 0-2 deficit against the United States, the prospect of Latvia qualifying for the 2020 Fed Cup in April fell on the shoulders of Jelena Ostapenko.
The 22-year old faced off against recent Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who had soundly defeated Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in her first rubber match.
Ostapenko had fallen to Serena Williams in two tight tiebreakers the previous day, but the 2017 French Open Champion still had a lot left in the tank as she squared off against her American counterpart.
After her stunning performance against Sevastova, Kenin appeared to be overwhelmed by Ostapenko's big-hitting. The Latvian hit 16 winners in the first set, compared to only 1 by Kenin. Furthermore, Kenin was unable to capitalize on her break points, converting only 1 out of 7 opportunities. It was to no one's surprise that Ostapenko took the first set 6-3, to the delight of the sparse Latvian support group.
However, Kenin appeared revitalized in the second set, employing more aggressive tactics that saw her convert all three of her break points. Her Latvian adversary showed some frustration, racking up 18 unforced errors as momentum rapidly swung the American's way.
Kenin quickly took the second set 6-2 and it was on the third and perhaps, most crucial set. Should the US prevail, then they would have accumulated an insurmountable 3-0 lead, knocking Latvia out of contention for qualification.
It was at this point that Kenin begin to fade. Perhaps fatigue had finally caught up with her, but the American put on a disappointing display. Winning only 36% of her first serves, Kenin got broken on four occasions. She also committed two double faults, accompanied by 13 unforced errors.
This sudden shift in momentum was enough to energize Ostapenko, and the Latvian maintained her composure to win the match 6-3 2-6 6-2 in an hour and 58 minutes.
Latvian hopes now rest on World No.41 Anastasija Sevastova, who has the daunting task of facing Serena Williams on her home court. An upset victory for Sevastova would send the tie into a fifth rubber, which would be decided by each country's doubles representatives.