Jelena Ostapenko inspired as she thrashes Karolina Pliskova in WTA Finals farewell
Pliskova has already locked up pole position from the white group after losing just eight games in her first two matches
World number three Karolina Pliskova remains confident she can rebound from a disappointing straight sets loss to Jelena Ostapenko in the WTA Finals on Thursday, as the Czech prepares for her semi-final debut in Singapore.
The 25-year-old was outclassed in the dead rubber encounter 6-3, 6-1 in 66 minutes at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Pliskova, who is in the running to finish world number one, had already locked up pole position from the white group after losing just eight games across her opening two matches.
Lacking intensity, an uninspired Pliskova’s reliable big serve was uncharacteristically erratic and she was broken five times in the match. Despite the loss, Pliskova is in the final four after failing in her WTA Finals debut last year.
Pliskova admitted playing in the dead rubber was a “weird” experience.
“Yeah, it was really tough to push myself and play my best tennis when you know you’ve qualified,” she said after the match. “I haven’t ever been in this situation. I didn’t know how I was going to feel and how she was going to play. I think she played amazing.”
Despite the setback, Pliskova remained confident of bouncing back in her semi-final on Saturday. “I think it will now feel like a normal tournament,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll be ready, and I’m sure I’m going to feel much better and play much better.”
It was the first time Pliskova had lost to Ostapenko, who grew in confidence and unleashed her powerful groundstrokes to dictate the rallies. With the pressure off, Ostapenko went for her shots, showing glimpses of brilliance rarely seen in Singapore after a breakout season.
She hit 15 winners during an impressive first set and reeled off seven straight games to take a stranglehold of the match.
The victory, her first in Singapore, was a consolation after a disappointing WTA Finals debut, where she was eliminated after a three-set defeat to Venus Williams on Tuesday.
The French Open champion said she enjoyed finishing the season on a high. “I think I was playing quite relaxed, and I just showed my best today,” Ostapenko said. “It’s my first time (in the WTA Finals) and hopefully there are more times I will be here.”
The 20-year-old said playing in the round-robin format was a learning experience. “You have to be really prepared for every match because, players who get here, they play at a very high level and every match is a battle,” she said.