Ballroom dance fan Ostapenko waltzes into Qatar semis

David Harding
AFP
Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, pictured on January 18, 2016, breezed into the semi-finals of the Qatar Open (AFP Photo/William West)

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, pictured on January 18, 2016, breezed into the semi-finals of the Qatar Open

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko, pictured on January 18, 2016, breezed into the semi-finals of the Qatar Open (AFP Photo/William West)

Doha (AFP) - Former Wimbledon junior champion Jelena Ostapenko breezed into the semi-finals of the Qatar Open on Thursday and revealed afterwards she had considered a career in ballroom dancing rather than tennis.

Confirming her potential, the 18-year-old Latvian won 6-4, 6-3 against China's Zheng Saisai who earlier in the week had beaten Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

The world number 88 had already beaten Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetzova earlier this week.

Ostapenko, who is coached by her mother, admitted she had been nervous as she closed in on victory in the second set against Zheng.

"It was a great match today against Saisai. Both of us played good, so I enjoyed it," she said.

"Before the match, I was fine. But during the match when I was leading in the score, then it went 3-0 to 3-All, I was a bit nervous. Then I just tried to stay consistent and play my game."

The teenager then revealed she had made the choice between a career in tennis and dancing and had even appeared in Latvian national dance championships.

"When I was five years old, I started to play tennis. At the same time, I did ballroom dancing for, like, seven years professional. I could dance like 10 dances," she said.

"But then I had to chose one, like, tennis or ballroom dancing. I chose the tennis because I liked it more and I had better results."

Ostapenko, who won at Wimbledon in 2014, plays Andrea Petkovic in the last four, guaranteeing that an unseeded player will reach the Doha final.

Petkovic beat fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-1, 5-7, 6-2.

The German has won all three matches between the pair and said she was looking forward to her match against Ostapenko.

"I actually watched both of her matches against Petra Kvitova and today, I saw the second set. And she's playing tremendous tennis," said Petkovic.

"I actually kind of discovered her, is maybe the wrong word, but I saw her playing qualifying in Linz last year, and I said to myself, 'Wow, this girl's really talented'. I think she's going to do some damage on tour. It's really nice to see I have a great prediction in myself."

Meanwhile Muguruza's compatriot Carla Suarez Navarro, the number eight seed, ensured Spanish representation in the semi-finals with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Russia's Elena Vesnina, who earlier in the week had beaten second seed Simona Halep.

"I feel good, you know," said Suarez Navarro. "Long days, but always when you win, when you enjoy on court, always is good. I mean, I feel tired a little bit, but also happy."

Suarez Navarro will play the top remaining seed, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals.

In the final match of the night, which finished after midnight on a windy evening in Doha, Radwanska, the number three seed, came from a set down to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 against Italy's Roberta Vinci.

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