Grieving Ostapenko beaten at Australian Open

Jelena Ostapenko (Getty)
Jelena Ostapenko (Getty)

Melbourne - Heartbroken Jelena Ostapenko was knocked out of the Australian Open on Thursday after taking the difficult decision to play despite the sudden death of her father.

The 22-year-old former French Open champion, whose father Jevgenijs passed away earlier this month, had said playing in Melbourne was the best way to take her mind off her loss.

She pulled out of a tournament in Auckland at the start of the year and flew home to Latvia, but decided to play in the Australian Open where she was beaten by Belinda Bencic in the second round.

Her father had driven her to the airport for the flight to Auckland and had been buoyed by her return to form, having slumped since winning the 2017 French Open.

"My dad was always believing in me," she told the official Australian Open website before Thursday's match. "I decided to play (in Melbourne) because I will be busy with something.

"If I stay home I think it's gonna push me even more and will be even harder for me."

Ostapenko beat Liudmila Samsonova of Russia in the first round, before coming unstuck against Swiss sixth seed Bencic, 5-7, 5-7 on Thursday.

"I was just trying to be in the present moment, to not think about anything else," Ostapenko said after defeating Samsonova.

Ostapenko is not the only young star to recently lose her father.

Aryna Sabalenka's father suddenly passed away in November aged 43 and Amanda Anisimova's father died just before the US Open.

"We actually spoke with Aryna Sabalenka about this, she shared some moments with me as well. It just happened to her a little bit earlier," Ostapenko said.

"When you expect it and you know that the person is not healthy or something, it's another thing, you know it.

"But to lose such a close person I think it's very hard."

Results on day four of the Australian Open Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Thursday (x denotes seeding):

Men's singles

Second round

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Federico Del Bonis (ARG) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1

Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP x27) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4

Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5

Karen Khachanov (RUS x16) bt Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8)

Gael Monfils (FRA x10) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 7-5

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-5, 6-3, 6-2

Taylor Fritz (USA x29) bt Kevin Anderson (RSA) 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-2

Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Alex Bolt (AUS) 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Pedro Martinez (ESP) 7-5, 6-1, 6-3

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

John Isner (USA x19) bt Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3

Stan Wawrinka (SUI x15) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4

David Goffin (BEL x11) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-3

Andrey Rublev (RUS x17) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x26) 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4

Alexander Zverev (GER x7) bt Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5

Women's singles

Second round

Belinda Bencic (SUI x6) bt Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5, 7-5

Anett Kontaveit (EST x28) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1

Donna Vekic (CRO x19) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4, 6-2

Iga Swiatek (POL) bt Carla Suarez (ESP) 6-3, 7-5

Elise Mertens (BEL x16) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-3, 6-0

Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Karolina Muchova (CZE x20) 6-4, 6-4

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Danielle Collins (USA x26) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5

Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-2, 6-4

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3, 7-5

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3, 6-1

Angelique Kerber (GER x17) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-3, 6-2

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x30) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 7-5, 7-6 (7/1)

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3, 6-3

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