Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Hong Kong Tennis Open results: tearful Jelena Ostapenko crashes out but Alize Cornet feeds off French support

Former Roland Garros champion Ostapenko beaten by player ranked 299 places below her, as Alize Cornet breezes past Julia Glushko with a little help from the city’s French expats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 11:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 5:23am

Alize Cornet said she feels right at home at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, given the city’s sizeable French expat population – and she played like it on Monday as the 2018 tournament kicked off.

The 28-year-old eased into the second round at Victoria Park with a 6-1, 6-2 win against Julia Glushko of Israel in just 55 minutes. There was a big shock later on Centre Court, with third seed Jelena Ostapenko losing 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova – who is ranked 317 in the world.

“Whenever I play in Hong Kong I feel kind of at home because there’s a lot of French people here,” Cornet said.

“I know there is a big French community and I can feel it when I’m on court. I wish for the support from them, but also from the people from Hong Kong.

“I guess the home players have a little bit of advantage, but I also feel good and at home on the court here, so I guess I also have an advantage.”

Told that the local French following went wild in the streets of Central after Les Bleus’ World Cup triumph in Russia, Cornet laughed and clapped her hands.

“Oh yeah, they did? We went crazy too,” she said. “It was worth it.”

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Cornet won 76 per cent of points on her first serve and said conditions were good in Causeway Bay.

“No wind, warm but not too warm. I love this court, I’ve played her three times so I know Centre Court pretty well, and I enjoy my time on the court,” she said.

“The crowd is always nice to me. I’m always playing quite well here, played in two quarter-finals here already. Hopefully the same if I win on Wednesday.

“I really have zero expectations of this tournament. I come out of a tough Asian swing with three first-round [losses] in a row. When I come into a tournament like this I just take it step by step. I try to win as many matches as I can.

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“Today, I finally won one after a month and a half. It feels good and now I’ll see how the next one goes. Even if it’s a 250 [points] tournament, the level is very high, so we’ll see.”

Ostapenko was the biggest casualty of the day, with the No 18 losing to a player a full 299 places below her in the rankings.

The 2017 French Open champion was beaten in one hour and 52 minutes, her performance littered with unforced errors, including six double faults.

“She had nothing to lose because I’m a seeded player here and highly ranked,” Ostapenko said. “It’s a similar situation to me last year, like how I was playing against top 20 players. I had nothing to lose; you play much better.

“Today she was not missing. For me it was not the best match. I made a lot of unforced errors. It all depends on my game. I started to miss more. I was rushing a lot.

“There are very few matches players really win against me with their winners, most of them I just lose with my unforced errors.

“Sometimes I rush too much or I go for the shots I shouldn’t go for. But when I’m in good form I make a lot of winners and can play on a high level.”

Ostapenko was in tears after the match on Centre Court, having also had to suffer the ignominy of losing on a shot that was clearly out.

The chair umpire somehow missed that Kucova’s winning shot had gone far beyond the baseline. Yet Ostapenko had already used up all of her challenges.

“In tennis, sometimes one ball can decide the whole match,” she said. “But that ball was quite far. I was preparing for the chair umpire to call it. This was very far out, unfortunately she didn’t call it and I ran out of challenges.

“I was just disappointed because I couldn’t give my best today. Every player is disappointed when they don’t bring their best. I was still trying and I was still fighting. But it just didn’t really go my way.”

In the last match on Centre Court, China’s No 2 Zheng Saisai quickly dispatched Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-1, 6-3.

Also in action on Monday, Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine made it through to the last 16 after seeing off Hungary’s Fanny Stollar 6-4, 6-4 in the first match on Court One.

American Jennifer Brady followed that by beating beat Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum 6-1, 7-5 (7-5), while on Centre Court, Viktoriya Tomova started the day by battling past Dalila Jakupovic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3).