Tennis: Former French Open champ Ostapenko dumped out of Shenzhen

Ostapenko (above, in December 2018) struggled to play consistently in a match riddled with unforced errors.
Ostapenko (above, in December 2018) struggled to play consistently in a match riddled with unforced errors.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (AFP) - Former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko's poor form continued Tuesday (Jan 1) when she suffered a swift defeat at the hands of Romanian Monica Niculescu at the Shenzhen Open.

Ranked 99th in the world, Niculescu swept past the Latvian world number 22 in less than an hour in a straight sets 6-0, 6-2 victory.

"I played all the week great," said Niculescu, beaming and waving to a cheering crowd in a post-match interview.

"I think I played a solid game and I'm very happy that in the second set I could come back from 0-2," she added.

Known for her distinctive style, which relies heavily on a sliced forehand, the Romanian quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead, while Ostapenko struggled to play consistently in a match riddled with unforced errors.

The loss to Niculescu in Shenzhen follows a series of disappointing China tournaments for the Latvian tennis star.

Ostapenko endured a poor China Open last October, hampered by a wrist injury, before losing to a player ranked 299 places below her at the Hong Kong Open.

Niculescu, who qualified for the main draw, will next face Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who moved through her opening match after China's Peng Shuai dropped out due to a right thigh injury.

The tournament, which runs until Saturday, will see players battling for US$750,000 (S$1 million) in prize money.