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By Alberto Amalfi | Thursday, June 22, 2023


No. 2-seeded Jelena Ostapenko won six of the last seven games topping Venus Williams 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to advance to the Birmingham quarterfinals.

Photo credit: Getty

A focused Venus Williams saved a match point to force the final set.

A fierce Jelena Ostapenko had the final word.

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Rallying from a break down in the decider, Ostapenko rolled through six of the final seven games defeating Williams 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to advance to the Birmingham quarterfinals for the third time.

In a hard-hitting clash of Grand Slam champions, Ostapenko hit 11 aces and saved eight of the 12 break points she faced in a two hour, 26-minute victory. 

It is Ostapenko's first win in three career meetings with Williams and sends her into her third quarterfinal of the season.

Afterward, Ostapenko praised a valiant Williams for pushing the match the distance.

"I mean she's a great champion and that hasn't gone anywhere," Ostapenko said of the former world No. 1. "It's always going to be with her. It's great to play against players like her.

"I mean she's an idol for a lot of people so it was very special. Maybe I got a little bit tight in the second set because playing against such a great player."

The second-seeded Ostapenko will play Magdalena Frech for a semifinal spot.

Qualifier Frech fought off Sorana Cirstea 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-4 to reach her second grass quarterfinal of the season following her run to the last eight in Nottingham.

World No. 17 Ostapenko grew up a Serena Williams fan and came out hammering her drives against older sister Venus Williams today.

The 43-year-old Williams, who was coming off an epic three hour, 16-minute triumph over Camila Giorgi in her opener, took a timeout to treat her cranky right knee in the second set today.

The wild card drew first-break blood in the fifth game.

Unleashing a flurry of first-strike winners, Ostapenko powered through a love break to level after six games.

Tied at 3-3, Ostapenko charged through the next three games to take a one-set lead.

After Ostapenko held to level the second set at 2-all, Williams left the court for treatment of her right knee and returned with what seemed to be even more wrapping around her knee.

When play resumed, Ostapenko immediately broke.

The 2017 Roland Garros champion cracked an ace capping a love hold for 4-2.

The Latvian could see the finish line, but Williams wasn't done yet. Williams saved a match point when Ostapenko knocked a forehand into net. Digging in, Williams held firm in the ninth game to force Ostapenko to serve it out.

The four-time Olympic gold-medal champion broke back to level 5-5. 

A recharged Williams was bending low to pick Ostapenko's flat drives off the line. Williams streaked through five of the last six games breaking with a backhand return down the line to snatch the second set and force a decider.

Williams broke at love for a 2-0 lead to start the decisive set and had a game point to go up 3-0. Ostapenko broke back in the third game then delivered a power surge.

Down a break point, Ostapenko clubbed a forehand to save it sparking a run of seven straight points that saw her hold then break for a 4-3 lead.

The Latvian never looked back sealing her first win over the four-time Olympic gold-medal champion.



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