Jelena Ostapenko captured her maiden semifinal at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by annihilating Paula Badosa in a 6-2 4-6 6-3 match. For the Latvian, this will be the first semifinal on clay since Roland Garros 2017, when she won the title: a warning message to all the players left on the draw.
The 20th seed had the strongest impact on the match: the first game was to set the narrative, as she stepped on court to take the return early and steal time from Badosa. The Spaniard was forced to ask a lot from her service, not always successfully. The former world number two fought hard and tried to weather the storm of Ostapenko’s shots, but the first set was one-way traffic. With 16 winners to 8 errors, Ostapenko clinched the set with her opponent waiting for her first digit on the counter of winning shots.
Out of the top drawer 👏— wta (@WTA) May 17, 2023
Fabulous play by @JelenaOstapenk8!#IBI23 pic.twitter.com/3ZHsbcXNux
Badosa proved once again to be a great fighter and despite the outcome of the first set, she tried to improve her level and stay close in the score. Her service finally helped her keeping Ostapenko away form the baseline and her own return became more effective too. The Spaniard took a break lead, but the 20th seed came back with roaring winners. Badosa did not panic and held for 5-4, leaving Ostapenko to chase on an important moment of the match for the first time on the day. Two wild errors forced the Latvian to surrender the set and face a decider.
The former Roland Garros champion left the court for a toilet break and she came back seemingly having found the same aggression of the first set. Shot after shot, she kept moving Badosa around, freezing her with stunning winners, especially with her backhand. The Spaniard fought harder than in the first set, but it was not enough to stop the Latvian from reaching the semifinal.
“It’s an amazing atmosphere and I love to play here,” said Ostapenko after the match thanking the crowd: “Even though I was never more than in the quarter finals, now I am in the semis and it is a great place to be”.
But she had lovely words not only for the crowd, but also for her opponent.
“Paula is a great player and an amazing fighter, I expected a battle and it was what I got. I had to play for every ball, but I am happy I played well in the deciding moments”.