Dubai Duty Free Tennis: 'For you mum', Ostapenko's birthday gift for her mother

The 25-year-old Latvian started the defence of her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in fine style with a 6-1, 6-4 win

By Joy Chakravarty

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Jelena Ostapenko hits a backhand return during her first round match in Dubai on Monday. — Photo by Shihab
Jelena Ostapenko hits a backhand return during her first round match in Dubai on Monday. — Photo by Shihab

Published: Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:22 PM

If Jelena Ostapenko looked far disproportionately pleased about her comfortable opening-round win over Ukrainian qualifier Katarina Zavatska, she had a very good reason – it was her mum’s birthday on Monday and she was watching from the stands.

The 25-year-old Latvian, who beat Veronika Kudermetova in the final last year, started the defence of her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in fine style with a 6-1, 6-4 win in just 75 minutes.


Jelena Jakovleva introduced her daughter to tennis at the age of six, and was also her first coach.

After dedicating the win to mum, Ostapenko said: “It’s great to have her here. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to bring her some good mood with my win. Now we can celebrate it for a little bit, because I have to play again tomorrow.


“She travels most of the time with me except some tournaments because we have two dogs at home that she has to take care of. And of course, she’s still coaching other players, kids. She works when she’s at home because she really loves that. It’s like her passion.”

Winner of the 2017 French Open, Ostapenko said she loves the feeling of coming back to a city where she had won before, but tried not to think too much about it.

“I try not to think about it. Dubai is a great city, and this is a great tournament. I really love to play here. But I just try not to put extra pressure on myself since the French Open (where she lost in the first round during her title defence in 2018). I think I had enough of it.

“I just take one match at a time. Obviously, the draw here is very strong. Last year, I beat four Grand Slam champions to win the tournament. I never have easy draws.

“Of course, it would be amazing to win another title here, but I will just take it easy and take one match at a time. I think it's the best to get ready for each match.”


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