Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Jelena Ostapenko celebrates after defeating Simona Halep in the women's singles semifinals at the 2022 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on making the final. What are your overall assessments of playing the match?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Again, playing a Grand Slam champion fourth match in a row, it’s not easy. Just happy with the way I was fighting. When things didn’t go my way because I felt a little bit exhausted in the beginning, I needed time to just maybe, I don’t know, get warmer and, yeah, just manage to win the match.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You’ve beaten Grand Slam champion after Grand Slam champion. What is your assessment of how you’ve been playing this week so far?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Every match was really tough. I was just focusing more on myself. I knew it was going to be a tough battle. Just fight till the very last point.
Q. For the third match in a row, you’re coming back from a set down. Is fatigue setting in? You’re also playing doubles. How do you explain your ability to be able to fight back?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I mean, all together. But also she was playing completely different tennis from what Petra was playing. She was playing much slower, almost no pace comparing to Petra. So I really had to step in from the beginning, which I didn’t do. I was stepping back. I didn’t go into the court.
When I understood it and changed things, so it started to go my way.
Q. You said yesterday when you were looking back at the Roland Garros match, that’s kind of what happened. Did it come in your mind on court at all?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Yeah, I mean, I knew I have to play aggressive no matter what, no matter what the score is. She really doesn’t like to play against players who are playing aggressive and take time away from her. I really knew that I have to do it today, all the match, even if I miss sometimes, which I did. I think it helped me to win.
Q. What is your Plan B in a match like today where initially you were not stepping in, but later you did, you took the match? When you’re missing, do you have an alternate plan or do you just stick with it?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I think there were just some things which I did wrong because I was missing. My legs were, like, standing. They were not moving in the first set. That’s why I was missing. When I changed that, everything changed.
I don’t think I really needed Plan B for this match. I think Plan A had to work well, and that’s what happened the second and third set.
Q. Were you aware of what was happening with the other semifinal, with Marketa pulling out, what was going to be ahead of you? Were you aware of that on court or did you find out after?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: No, I knew it already before I went on the court. Nobody told me but I saw she was at the physio. Unfortunately it happens sometimes to the players. It’s probably not the nicest way to finish in the tournament, being in a semifinal and pull out.
I hope she feels better. I kind of knew it before the match already.
Q. Did you feel like you needed to take it to a third set to give the fans their money’s worth today?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I mean, honestly I think after I won the second set, most of the fans were cheering more for me. That was like really, really nice. When I won the second set, I did like hands in the air. They were, like, pumped up. So yeah, it was nice.
Q. Did you lose your voice from screaming on the court?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Yes, I think from the screaming on the court. I don’t know, like all the time when I practice even, my voice goes down. Sometimes happens.
But I was screaming too much in the matches. That’s probably why it’s this way.
Q. You are telling the fans to pump it up or is it for you to be pumped up for the third set having won the second? Was the signal for yourself or for the fans?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I think for the fans because I really enjoy to play in front of a lot of people with a big crowds. I felt like today the atmosphere was really nice.
Yeah, I just wanted fans to be more pumped up.
Q. How are you physically at this point going into the final? You still have your doubles semifinals to go.
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I mean, there is only one more day left, tomorrow. So I’m going to try to think positive, not going to try to think if I’m tired or not.
I’ll play this tournament, Doha, and then we’ll take some rest. I’m just going to try to focus on tomorrow.
Q. How do you look ahead to the final?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I know her since juniors. We were even playing doubles together sometimes. Yeah, she’s a good, aggressive player. She has a good serve.
I think if I play my best tennis, try till the very last point, like all the matches I did, I think I have pretty good chances against her.
Q. You’re going to be trying to break into the top 20, become the Dubai champion. Are all those numbers playing in your head or do you block it out?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I don’t think that will really be in my head because I had too much pressure already after winning French Open. I think this pressure comparing to what it was before is like nothing.
But a final is still a final. No, I don’t think any of those things are going to really disturb me.