Jelena Ostapenko vs Sloane Stephens, Miami Final Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 Final 🏆 Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇺🇸 (13) Sloane Stephens

A blockbuster final at the Miami Open sees a pair of reigning Grand Slam champions collide when Jelena Ostapenko comes up against Sloane Stephens. Ostapenko and Stephens have followed similar paths of late, both struggled early in the year but both have come good in Miami in a big way. Interestingly this will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Stephens, it will be fascinating to see how this match-up pans out especially given how well both generally play on the big stage.

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Ostapenko arrived in Miami with a losing record to her name in 2018. The Latvian has really ignited her season in Miami, rocketing her way through to the final without dropping a set. Ostapenko started the event with a couple of hard fought victories over Timea Babos and Beatriz Haddad Maia. The reigning Roland Garros champion made her big move with back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents as she beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 6-3 and Elina Svitolina 7-6 7-6. Ostapenko confirmed her spot in a fourth career final with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 win over Danielle Collins.

Ostapenko’s ability to raise her level under pressure has been the most impressive part of her run to the final. The 20-year-old has a perfect 5-0 record in tiebreaks in Miami, her brave tennis under pressure has been rewarded just as it was at Roland Garros last year.

Sloane Stephens has been equally impressive on route to the final. In the early rounds Stephens claimed a comfortable straight set win over Ajla Tomljanovic and a hard-fought 3 set over Monica Niculescu. Like Ostapenko, Stephens then claimed back-to-back straight set wins over top 10 opponents, beating Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-4 and Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-2. Stephens confirmed her spot in Saturday’s Miami Open final with a 3-6 6-2 6-1 win over Victoria Azarenka, Stephens came from a set and a break down, winning 12 of the last 13 games to storm into her first final since the U.S Open last year.

This promises to be an extremely entertaining final, Ostapenko and Stephens have proven to be big game players in the last 12 months, both have played their best tennis of the biggest stages. Who will step up and claim the 2018 Miami Open title?

To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here
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Jelena Ostapenko vs Danielle Collins, Miami SF Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 SF Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇺🇸 (Q) Danielle Collins

Thursday’s second semi-final from the Miami Open will feature an unexpected match-up as reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko comes up against local qualifier Danielle Collins. Ostapenko has powered through the draw, defeating 2 top 10 opponents in row to reach the final 4 in Miami. Collins has also been impressive, collecting 7 victories on route to the semi-finals having come through the qualifying draw. Ostapenko had never previously won a match in Miami before this event whilst Collins is the first qualifier to ever reach the semi-final stage in Miami, two unlikely semi-finalists.

It has been a frustrating start to the year for Ostapenko but everything is falling into place for the world number 5 in Miami. Ostapenko arrived in Miami with a modest 4-7 win/loss record to her name in 2018 and had not even beaten a top 50 opponent. In Miami the Latvian has beaten 3 top 50 opponents, including 2 top 10 opponents. Ostapenko received a bye through the opening round before beating Timea Babos 6-4 6-4 and Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 7-6. Ostapenko has really raised her level in her last couple of wins, a 7-6 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova and 7-6 7-6 over Elina Svitolina. The 20-year-old’s victories over Kvitova and Svitolina were both in difficult windy conditions, Ostapenko showed good mental fortitude to come out on top in all the critical moments in both of those matches.

The rise of Danielle Collins has been gobsmacking. Collins started the month having never won a main draw match of a WTA tour level event. Collins went on to reach the round of 16 in Indian Wells and is now into the semi-finals in Miami, meaning Collins is on the verge of reaching the top 50 in the rankings.

It has been a long journey to the semi-final stage for Collins. It started with straight set wins over Tereza Smitkova and Jana Cepelova in the qualifying draw and a comfortable opening round win over Irina-Camelia Begu. Collins battled through the middle stages of the event with 3 set wins over CoCo Vandeweghe, Donna Vekic and Monica Puig. Collins produced her most impressive performance of the event and indeed her entire career at the quarter-final stage as she easily disposed of Venus Williams, a 6-2 6-3 victory in her first match on the Stadium court. Collins could do nothing wrong, everything she tried worked on the night.

Thursday night’s semi-final will be the first tour level meeting between Ostapenko and Collins. Can Collins keep her dream run alive or will Ostapenko be too strong?

To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here
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Jelena Ostapenko vs Belinda Bencic, Indian Wells R2 Preview

BNP Paribas Open, 🇺🇸🌴 Indian Wells R2 Preview
🇱🇻 (6) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇨🇭 Belinda Bencic

A blockbuster second round match-up at the second round stage of the BNP Paribas Open sees the 6th seeded Jelena Ostapenko come up against Belinda Bencic. This will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Bencic, a battle between two of the tours most talented youngsters. This is likely to be a match-up we will see a lot of in the years to come, it will be interesting to see who draws the first blood.

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Jelena Ostapenko is really yet to get going in season 2018. The Latvian has a very modest 3-6 win/loss record in 2018, she has not been able to find her range from the baseline and her second serve has been a real issue of late. Ostapenko has only competed in Indian Wells on 1 previous occasions, a second round exit at last year’s event. The slow, gritty hard courts are not the type of courts that would be considered favourable for Ostapenko. The Latvian progressed to the second round courtesy of an opening round bye.

Belinda Bencic claimed a critical victory to advance to the second round. Bencic saved match point on route to a hard-fought 1-6 6-1 7-6 victory over Timea Babos. The opening two sets were very one-sided as the score line suggests but the third set was very close and very tense. Bencic squandered several chances midway through the set and saved match point at 4-5 which she saved in a lucky rally. Bencic was clearly the better player in the decisive tiebreak, her precision groundstrokes were the difference in the end.

It will be interesting to see how this match unfolds in what will be the first meeting between the pair. These are two of the hungriest and most talented young players on tour, expect a fiery clash.

To view my Analysis / Prediction for this match: Click here

Jelena Ostapenko vs Elena Vesnina, Dubai R2 Preview

🇦🇪 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, R2 Preview
🇱🇻 (4) Jelena Ostapenko vs 🇷🇺 Elena Vesnina

Jelena Ostapenko will kickstart her 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis championships campaign on Wednesday with a second round clash against Russia’s Elena Vesnina. As the 4th seed in Dubai Ostapenko received a bye into the second round whilst Vesnina earned her spot in the second round with a straight set win over Shuai Peng. Ostapenko has failed to fire in 2018, the world number 7 will be keen to avoid another early round exit in 2018 and will be wary of Vesnina who won the only previous match between the pair.

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Ostapenko has won back-to-back matches in 2018 on just 1 occasion and has an overall 3/5 win/loss record at tour level events this year. Clearly it has not been the start to the season Ostapenko was hoping for but perhaps it was to be expected as Ostapenko did have a long 2017 season and an interrupted off-season. Ostapenko was thrashed in her opening round match in Doha last week, beaten by Mihaela Buzarnescu 1-6 3-6, a very bad loss for the Latvian star. There was some positives for Ostapenko last week in Doha as she did win the doubles title alongside Gabriela Dabrowski.

Elena Vesnina has also generally made a poor start to the season. Vesnina arrived in Dubai with just 2 wins to her name and a mountain of points to defend in a few weeks’ time in Indian Wells where she is the defending champion. Vesnina made a decent start to her Dubai campaign on Monday as she beat Shuai Peng 6-4 7-5. It certainly wasn’t the highest quality match but Vesnina always seemed to have the slight edge and was good enough to get the job done in a couple of tight sets.

Vesnina defeated Ostapenko 7-5 6-0 on clay in Madrid in 2016 in what is their only previous clash. Clearly a lot has changed since then, but given Ostapenko’s recent troubles, Vesnina will fancy her chances to maintain a perfect record against the Latvian.

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Jelena Ostapenko vs Anett Kontaveit, Australian Open R3 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R3 Preview
🇱🇻 (7) Jelena Ostapenko vs 🇪🇪 (32) Anett Kontaveit

A blockbuster third round match-up at Melbourne Park on Friday sees the 7th seeded Jelena Ostapenko take on the 32nd seeded Anett Kontaveit. Ostapenko and Kontaveit will both be aiming to reach the second week at the Australian Open for the first time. These two know each other well, the pair grew up on the junior circuit together and actually played doubles together at the ITF level years back. This will be the first tour level meeting between the pair of big hitters. Who will prevail?

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Jelena Ostapenko cruised through her opening round match in Melbourne, defeating Francesca Schiavone 6-1 6-4 in what was the first match played on Rod Laver Arena at this year’s event. The reigning Roland Garros champion was forced to work much harder for her second round win, fighting her way past Ying-Ying Duan with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win. Ostapenko blasted 35 winners past Duan which included 10 aces. Ostapenko’s composure under pressure was the difference, especially at the end of the third set where she served very well.

Anett Kontaveit arrived in Melbourne in poor form but has done very well to reach the third round stage at Melbourne Park for the first time. Kontaveit had not previously won a main draw match at Melbourne Park. The Estonian started the event with a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 win over an in-form Aleksandra Krunic before securing her spot in the third round with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 win over Barthel. Kontaveit was quite streaky in both matches but she played enough good tennis to get through on each occasion.

This will be the first tour level meeting between the pair.

Jelena Ostapenko vs Ying-Ying Duan, Australian Open R2 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R2 Preview
🇱🇻 (7) Jelena Ostapenko vs 🇨🇳 Ying-Ying Duan

Jelena Ostapenko continues her 2018 Australian Open campaign on Wednesday where she will take on China’s Ying-Ying Duan in the second round. The 7th seeded Latvian made a good start in Melbourne Park by beating Francesca Schiavone in straight sets in what was the 20-year-old’s first appearance on Rod Laver Arena. Ostapenko is likely to face a tougher challenge in the second round against Duan, an opponent that has weapons of her own that can hurt Ostapenko.

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Jelena Ostapenko opened the 2018 Australian Open proceedings on Rod Laver Arena. Ostapenko played a fairly clean match to easily get past fellow Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone 6-1 6-4. The bottom half of the draw has already opened up after just 1 round. Ostapenko is clearly one player that is capable of making the most of an open draw.

Ying-Ying Duan also rocketed through her opening round match in Melbourne. Duan thrashed Columbia’s Mariana Duque-Mariño 6-0 6-1. Duan has a very powerful game, the quick hard courts in Melbourne are the perfect conditions for the 28-year-old.

This will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Duan.

Jelena Ostapenko vs Francesca Schiavone, Australian Open R1 Preview

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.

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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?

Jelena Ostapenko vs Ekaterina Makarova, Sydney R1 Preview

Sydney International, R1 Preview
(3) 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko vs 🇷🇺 Ekaterina Makarova

Main draw action begins at the Sydney International on Sunday, the pick of the matches sees the 3rd seeded Jelena Ostapenko take on Ekaterina Makarova. Ostapenko and Makarova are both looking for their first win of 2018, both will be desperate to ensure they can get a couple of matches under their belt before heading to Melbourne next week.

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Jelena Ostapenko made a wayward start to her 2018 campaign last week in Shenzhen. Ostapenko was defeated by Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets 1-6 4-6. Ostapenko was not even close to her best, hitting a ton of unforced errors in what as a disappointing start to the year, albeit against a difficult opponent.

Ekaterina Makarova will begin her 2018 season on Sunday at the Sydney International. Makarova had a relatively disappointing season in 2017, ending the year just outside the top 33. Makarova is good enough to push back into the top 20. It will be interesting to see how she starts her 2018 season on Sunday

This will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Makarova.

Serena Williams vs Jelena Ostapenko, Abu Dhabi MWTC Preview

Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Exhibition

🇺🇸 Serena Williams vs 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko

Serena Williams will make her much anticipated return to competitive play at a special exhibition match in Abu Dhabi. The 23-time Grand Slam Champion will come up against reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko. This promises to be an exciting encounter, the pair have never played each other in a competitive match, just one of the exciting factors heading into the match.

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Serena Williams will be playing her first match in almost a year after giving birth to her first child in September. Williams and Ostapenko will bring the spotlight to the WTA at the 10th Edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, the first time women have competed at the annual season opening championship.

Jelena Ostapenko arrives in Abu Dhabi soon after competing at an exhibition event in Hua Hin, Thailand. Ostapenko played a couple of matches in Hua Hin, losing in straight sets on both occasions. The Latvian was beaten by Karolina Pliskova and Johanna Konta quite comfortably. Notably, Ostapenko changed racquet’s during the off-season, the 20-year-old was seemingly struggling to find her range in her matches in Hua Hin and gestured that she was having trouble with her new racquet on a few occasions.

Serena Williams has not played a competitive match since she claimed her 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2017. It was later revealed that Williams was in the early stages of pregnancy during her title run in Melbourne. It has remained doubtful that Serena would make the trip to Australia to defend her title, however it is now clear that Serena will remarkably defend her title in Melbourne given her appearance in Abu Dhabi. Every match Serena can play before Melbourne is important given her lengthy time away from the court, it will be interesting to see what kind of level Serena can bring to the court at the MWTC.

It is worth noting that the addition of this match in Abu Dhabi is related to the high profile withdrawals from the annual men’s event. Rafael Nadal, Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka have all pulled out of the event. Serena was undoubtedly lured to Abu Dhabi with a huge pay cheque.

Karolina Pliskova vs Jelena Ostapenko, Singapore White Group Preview

WTA Finals, 🏆🇸🇬🦁🐉🏨 Singapore Match Preview + Prediction
RR: ⚪ White Group: (3) 🇨🇿 Karolina Pliskova vs (7) 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko

Karolina Pliskova became the first to qualify for the semi-final stage in Singapore when she cruised past Garbine Muguruza 6-2 6-2 on Tuesday evening to go 2-0 in the white group. Conversely, Jelena Ostapenko became the first player to be eliminated from the tournament as she succumbed to Venus Williams in a 3 hour plus epic, relegating the Latvian to a 0-2 record in the white group.

This all means that this white group clash between Pliskova and Ostapenko will be a dead rubber in a sense, however there is still a lot to play for both ladies. With a heap of ranking points still on the line, every win is important for Pliskova in the race for number 1 and she will want to keep her momentum going into the semi-finals with another win here. Whilst Jelena Ostapenko will want to end the best season of her career on a positive note and avoid leaving Singapore without a single victory.

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