Linz’s new number 1: “She’s like no other”

Jelena Ostapenko polarizes, she is the personified fire on the courts in the tennis circus, a bundle of energy that thrives on emotions.

The Latvian is one of the loudest protagonists, she pushes herself, puts all her power into each of her punches and sometimes offends her opponents. She’s a real type – and the new number one at the Upper Austria Ladies qualification, which begins on Sunday (10 a.m.) at the Linz Design Center.

Tenth in the world rankings takes the place of Marketa Vondrousova (Cze), who had to withdraw due to a persistent shoulder injury. “I’m sorry, I would have liked to come,” apologized the 2023 Wimbledon winner.

In the doubles final in Melbourne

Of course, the wires ran hot after “Down Under”. Linz tournament director Sandra Reichel worked an intensive night shift and was able to give the green light in the morning hours. Namely for the commitment of Ostapenko, who triumphed at the French Open in Paris in 2017 and is currently aiming for another Grand Slam title in Melbourne.

The 26-year-old from Riga, who has won seven titles on the WTA Tour, is in the doubles final; on Sunday (5 a.m.) she will contest the final alongside Ukrainian Lyudmila Kitschenok. Then we head back to Europe – with high ambitions.

Ostapenko still has a job to finish in Linz. She really wants to immortalize herself on the champions’ roll of honor. In 2019 she was close to it, at that time the former number five in the world was unable to stop the super talent Coco Gauff, who came out of the qualification (“Lucky Loser”), from flying high. The then 15-year-old American won the final 6:3, 1:6, 6:2.

“Maybe I can do a little better this time. Linz is a great tournament, I’m looking forward to coming here again,” emphasized Ostapenko, who has earned more than $14 million in prize money in her career.

A tidy sum is also waiting in Upper Austria. The event, which has been promoted to the 500 category and has existed since 1991, has never been so richly endowed. 922,573 US dollars will be distributed, the triumphant takes away 142,000 dollars gross and 500 points. That pays off.

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Sandra Reichel is clearly looking forward to Ostapenko. “Jelena still has a score to settle with Linz, I know that she absolutely wants to win the title here. I really appreciate her as a personality and tennis player, she is like no other. She is currently back in that impressive form that she is in every player in the world. Her strokes are among the fastest on the entire tour. I know that she will thrill our Linz tennis audience,” said the Wels native.

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Alexander Zambarloukos

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Alexander Zambarloukos

Alexander Zambarloukos

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