Clara Tauson, 18 and rising, tops Ostapenko for second title of 2021
Danish teen Clara Tauson completed her impressive title run at Luxembourg by toppling defending champion Jelena Ostapenko in three sets.
It’s been a brilliant season for Denmark’s Clara Tauson and it isn’t over yet. On Sunday the 18-year-old muscled past Jelena Ostapenko in three tense sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to claim her second WTA title (fifth if you count her 125K title at Chicago plus two ITF titles) at the BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.
After handing Ostapenko, the third seed and defending champ, her first ever loss at Luxembourg, Tauson talked about the difference between her first two WTA titles.
“In Lyon I think I had kind of a dream week, I played unbelievable tennis and I didn’t think about anything, I just played,” she said. “I won easy against really good players, here I had to fight in every single match, so I think I am more happy about this one because it was such a tough fight.”
Mentally and physically tough
Tauson, who will turn 19 in December and owns a 37-13 record across all levels in 2021, says she was most pleased by her ability to buckle down and come through stressful situations this week in Luxembourg.
“I’m really happy about that, it’s very important for me mentally and physically that I can play those kinds of matches and get back even though I lose the second set every single time,” she said. “Every time it’s three sets it’s because I lose the second set, so I feel I can regroup and come back and play good tennis again, it’s very important.”
Unseeded Tauson struck 31 winners against just six unforced errors, and while the scorekeeping on site may have been a tad generous, those numbers are clear indication that the Dane is playing cleaner tennis than ever at this stage of her season.
“Yes, I think I’m playing much more solid now,” she said. “I don’t go for stupid things too much anymore, I think it’s because I’m really physically fit that I also mentally can stay in the rallies and try to give them one more shot instead of me trying to finish the points all the time.
“I think that paid off a lot especially this week with me running everywhere, it’s not very often you see me everywhere on the court, so it was a new thing for me to try also and it paid off and yes, I think it was really nice to know that I can play these kinds of matches.”
Tauson saved a pair of break points at 2-2 in the third set, and finished the match by winning nine of her final ten points on serve.
She broke Ostapenko in the final game of the contest, converting her second championship point to lock up victory in two hours and four minutes.
Surprised by breakout success
The Copenhagen native finished the 2020 season at 152 in the world and is projected to rise to 52 in Monday’s WTA rankings. After completing a run that saw her take out three Top-35 players (No 5-seeded Alexandrova, ranked 33, No 4-seeded Vondrousova, ranked 35 and No 3-seeded Ostapenko, ranked 30) she says she didn’t see success coming so fast.
“I had a weird season, I didn’t expect to be here at all,” she said. “I expected that, hopefully, I would move into Top-100, but now it’s almost Top-50, I’m a little bit surprised but super happy about the way I’ve played, especially in recent weeks, I think I’ve improved various things, so I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks until the end of the season.”
Not sure about playing Indian Wells
Tauson says she will take some much needed rest in Belgium before resuming her training. She had originally planned to play Ostrava qualifying, but missed the deadline due to her run at Luxembourg. She isn’t sure where she’ll play next, but hinted that she may skip Indian Wells in October in order to stay in Europe and play indoors.
“Right now, I don’t know, because Linz is getting moved, but I would like to stay in Europe and play indoors,” she said. “I was already in the US twice this year and it’s a lot of travelling and when you have tournaments in Europe I think it’s okay to stay here. I love Europe and I love just driving around to tournaments, but we’ll see, I don’t know right now, but I don’t think so.”