Jelena Ostapenko hasn't won a WTA title, but she will play for a Grand Slam title at the French Open on Saturday.
One of the great myths of tennis—maybe of sports—states that experience is automatically a benefit. Sometimes the player who recognizes the weight of the occasion is duly burdened by it. And the newcomer swinging away with reckless abandon is at an advantage. Such was the case in the first women's semifinal on Thursday.
Jelena Ostapenko may not have won a title of any size in professional tennis. But she plays aggressive go-for-broke tennis and, having just turned 20 on Thursday, goes about her business as though she's playing with house money. Her high-risk/high reward game yielded the latter, as she beat Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland in three sets, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3. Ostapenko cracked 50 winners and recovered nicely after dropping the second set.
So far the decade has treated her well. Imagine if Ostapenko's first pro tennis title is a French Open crown? She's one match from it and hardly seems flustered by the possibility.