LONDON - Jelena Ostapenko became the first Latvian woman to reach a Wimbledon semi-final as the former French Open champion beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Ostapenko was won the junior Wimbledon title four years ago and now the youngest player left in the women's singles is only one win away from the final. The 12th seed, who hasn't dropped a set in her first five matches, battled past Slovakian world number 33 Cibulkova on Court One. Ostapenko's second Grand Slam semi-final appearance will be against former Wimbledon finalist Angelique Kerber on Thursday.
Speaking after her win, Ostapenko revealed she is playing with more freedom now she no longer has the pressure of defending the title in Paris, where she was knocked out in the first round last month. "It's really great to be in the semis. I'm just enjoying being here," Ostapenko said. "Dominika was playing great, but I'm fighting until the end and I'm gaining more confidence."
Ostapenko also admitted she needed ice on her leg in between games after slapping herself with her hand in frustration at a missed chance. "I hit myself when I missed a shot. It was too hard so I had to ice it," she added.
Meanwhile, Juan Martin del Potro set up a Wimbledon quarter-final clash against Rafael Nadal when he downed Gilles Simon of France 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) on Tuesday.
The match was suspended on Monday evening due to fading light, with the Argentine star two sets to one ahead. Del Potro went on to sealed victory on a fifth match point after almost four and a half hours of action on Court Two.
The 29-year-old will be play in his first Wimbledon quarter-final since 2013, when he went on to lose to Novak Djokovic in an epic semi-final. Del Potro trails world number one Nadal 10-5 in career meetings.