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Ostapenko ousts Haddad Maia to claim Seoul crown

Top seed Jelena Ostapenko came from a set down to defeat Beatriz Haddad Maia and win her first hardcourt title at the KEB Hana Bank-Incheon Airport Korea Open in Seoul.

 

SEOUL, South Korea - Playing her first tournament as a Top 10 player, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko won her first hardcourt title in Seoul on Sunday, rallying from a set down to defeat Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4.

In front of a raucous, capacity crowd, Ostapenko came from behind for the second straight match, defeating the debutant WTA finalist in two hours and 15 minutes.

Outside of her triumph in Paris, the Latvian had been winless in three finals at WTA events, which included a Premier 5 defeat at the Qatar Open to Carla Suárez Navarro in her first hardcourt final last year.

"I'm really happy to win my second title here and in my career. I enjoyed playing here, and to also see so many Latvian flags is amazing," Ostapenko said on-court after the match. "It's my first time in Korea. I enjoyed my time here; hopefully, I can be back next year and win some more titles here."

The 20-year-old Ostapenko did not have the match entirely her own way, as Haddad Maia showed little nerves in her first WTA final after shaking off an early break.

The Brazilian got the opener back on serve in the sixth game, and continued to go toe-to-toe with the French Open champion from the baseline, generating two set points on return in the 10th game.

However, Haddad Maia eventually saw off the first set in a tiebreak, twice coming from a mini-break down to seal a one-set lead.

"I'm very happy, this week was very special. It was my first time here and I'm very happy to play here. The atmosphere was amazing," said Haddad Maia in defeat. "This match was really tight. Both of us were playing very well. She's a very good player, I know her from juniors.

"It was very nice to have two players fighting for all the points, and it was a good experience."

Undaunted by her deficit, Ostapenko sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, helped in part by winning the first eight points of the set.

The top seed added a second insurance break in a lengthy sixth game, and served out the set on her third opportunity after building a 40-0 lead.

Five aces helped the Latvian's cause in the second set, as she dropped just four points in four service games, and was perfect on her two break-point chances against the World No.71.

Though Ostapenko led by a break three times in the deciding set, she was unable to pull away from a determined Haddad Maia, who leveled proceedings each time - the last coming at 4-4.

However, the Latvian stepped it up when it mattered in the waning moments, winning eight of the last nine points - and posting her first love hold since the first game of the second set - to see her way through to the title.

"At the French Open, I was losing a set and 3-0, so I was more down than I was today. I was just trying to play my game and enjoy the match," Ostapenko said. "Here, the situation was a bit different because I was the first seed. She was playing well, she's also a lefty, so you have to get used to her game a little bit."

"In the second set, I tried to forget the first, and just show my best and fight. I was moving better, missing a little bit less. Both of us were tense, as it's a final and a special day...but both of us were playing very aggressive and the match was good for a final."
Jelena Ostapenko

It was sweep for the top seeds on Sunday, as Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson kept their bid on the Porsche Race to Singapore alive with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Luksika Kumkhum and Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand.

"We work really hard, we play a lot of tournaments, and it's just about putting up good results in the whole year," Bertens said. "We started three-and-a-half years ago and got along well from the beginning. I'm really happy that she's still my partner. For us, we really need confidence to play matches."

Added Larsson: "Sometimes you're a little lucky...today, we won and we're happy with that. It gives us more energy to keep working. We still have two tournaments to go.

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