Naomi Broady saved match points in Set 2 and Set 3 before completing an incredible comeback against Latvian wildcard Jelena Ostapenko at the WTA International ASB Classic in Auckland this morning, amidst some highly criticised gamesmanship from her 18-year-old opponent.
Midway through the second set, Ostapenko threw a racket in frustration which hit one of the ball boys, at which point many feel the Latvian should have been defaulted. But play continued, and the animosity rose, and at the end of the game, the Latvian barely shook the Brit’s hand and, according to Broady later on Twitter, Ostapenko accused her of poor behaviour, at which point Naomi was seen to have retorted “You hit a ball boy with your racket!” before proceeding to celebrate her 4-6 7-6(4) 7-5 victory on court and closing the matter.
The match itself was far better than the post-match kerfuffle, with Broady once again staging quite a remarkable comeback. It looked unlikely for a long time though, with Ostapenko at times tormenting Broady during points, sending her from side to side and then smashing a winner down the line into empty space, winning the first set 6-4.
The Latvian moved into a comfortable lead in the second set, leading 5-2, but Broady clung on and saved a match point en route to a second set tiebreak, which is where the racket incident occurred. The ball boy was called to the umpire’s chair to confirm that the racket had indeed hit him on the shoulder, and Broady was pleading for the Latvian to be rightfully disqualified, but play continued – and for a while, it looked like the Latvian was going to get away with it.
Broady trailed by two breaks in the final set, but at 5-1 behind, she again saved match point and clawed her way back, winning six games on the bounce to finally crush her opponent, who, as mentioned above, did not take the defeat lying down.
With both players evenly matched in a scrappy match, it was again Broady’s serve that played a huge factor in her victory: she served 21 aces in total compared to the Latvian’s four, and served 8 double faults, a number dwarfed by Ostapenko’s 13. There were 12 breaks of serve in total, and perhaps the most crucial statistic: Ostapenko had game point in six games which she was unable to convert.
After such a thrilling affair, Broady will hope to have a more light-hearted match against her next opponent, fifth seed Sloane Stephens from the USA. The pair have met twice before, on grass, with Broady winning in Birmingham in 2011 and Stephens winning last year at Eastbourne. The match is scheduled for later this evening.