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Ostakpenko beats Kenin to keep Latvia alive in Fed Cup

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko defeated newly crowned Australian Open champ Sofia Kenin 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 on Saturday to keep Latvia alive in their Fed Cup qualifying tie against the United States.

Ostapenko's victory, in one hour and 58 minutes at the Angel of the Wings arena in Everett, Washington, cut Latvia's deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-five match tie.

America's 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was up next with a chance to clinch it against world No. 41 Anastasija Sevastova.

If necessary, the tie will go to a decisive doubles match, with a place in the finals in Budapest in April on the line.

The Americans had taken a commanding 2-0 lead on Friday, when Kenin defeated Sevastova and Williams, playing her first Fed Cup match since 2018, beat Ostapenko to take her perfect singles record in the women's nations tournament to 14-0.

"Honestly it's very special to play for my country and I was just trying my best," said Ostapenko, who raced to a 3-0 lead against Kenin and broke her again in the eighth game on the way to winning the first set.

"I was fighting until the last point," she said. "I knew it was going to be a very tough match and the key thing for me was just to play aggressive."

That approach may have contributed to her 49 unforced errors. Kenin made the most of them in the second set, fending off a break point in the first game then pulling away to take a 4-0 lead on the way to forcing a third set.

In a third set that featured six breaks of serve, Ostapenko held for 3-1 and, finally, held in the last game, sealing it on her second match point.

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