Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(7) 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko vs 🇮🇹 Francesca Schiavone
Jelena Ostapenko and Francesca Schiavone will open proceedings on Rod Laver Arena on day 1 of the 2018 Australian Open. All eyes are on Ostapenko in 2018. The young Latvian shocked the tennis world when she claimed her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year. Ostapenko is one of the most entertaining characters on tour. The Latvian solidified her spot in the top 10 late last year but one suspects the real challenge will come in 2018 for Ostapenko with a new sense of expectation on the 20-year-old.
The early signs for Ostapenko in 2018 have not been great. Ostapenko suffered back-to-back opening round losses in Shenzhen and Sydney. In Shenzhen Ostapenko was wayward, beaten in straight sets by Kristyna Pliskova 1-6 4-6. A week later, Ostapenko was more competitive in Sydney where she was beaten by Ekaterina Makarova 6-7 1-6. Ostapenko may be a Grand Slam champion but she has little experience in the main draw in Melbourne. Ostapenko won her first matches in the main draw in Melbourne last year where she reached the third round. Ostapenko cam agonisingly close upsetting Karolina Pliskova on that occasion. It will be interesting to see if Ostapenko can get her game together at Melbourne Park.
At the age of 37, 2018 is expected to be Francesca Schiavone’s final appearance at the Australian Open. Schiavone is a former quarter-finalist in Melbourne but has not made it past the second round since 2012. Schiavone did not play any tournaments in the lead up to the first Grand Slam of the year. It is hard to know where Schiavone’s game is at right now, but one thing is for sure, she will give her all on court.
This will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Schiavone, two former Roland Garros champions with two very different game styles. Who will be the first winner on Rod Laver Arena at the 2018 Australian Open?