Jelena Ostapenko vs. Daria Gavrilova, Wuhan R1 Preview

? Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, R1 Preview
?? (10) Jelena Ostapenko vs. ?? Daria Gavrilova

A first round match-up in Wuhan which features a huge contrast in styles sees the 10th seeded Jelena Ostapenko take on Daria Gavrilova. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that this will be the first career meeting between the pair. Will attack of defence prevail?

Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in action during her third-round match at the 2018 US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Gavrilova have both been in fairly disappointing form of late, both had poor results during the North American hard court swing and both suffered early exits last week. Ostapenko was beaten at the second round stage in her title defense in Seoul, smashed by Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets. Gavrilova played a couple of marathon matches against the Pliskova sisters in Tokyo, Gavrilova let several leads slip on route to a three 3 set loss to Karolina Pliskova.

This should be an entertaining match between two totally different players. Ostapenko has the firepower whilst Gavrilova has the defensive prowess. Gavrilova will make life hard for Ostapenko if she is off her game but if the Latvian fires she should be too strong.

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Barbora Strycova vs. Alize Cornet, Wuhan R1 Preview

? Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, R1 Preview
?? Barbora Strycova vs. ?? Alize Cornet

Two of the tour’s most entertaining players will go head-to-head at the opening round stage in Wuhan as Barbora Strycova takes on Alize Cornet. Interestingly it is Cornet who has been fairly dominant in this match-up in the past, Cornet holds a 6-2 head-to-head record over Strycova but heads into this match as the slight underdog.

Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic in action during her third-round match at the 2018 US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

The pair bring fairly contrasting form into this opening round match in Wuhan. Strycova was in action last week in Tokyo where she played two tough matches, she beat Anett Kontaveit in an epic 3 set encounter before being beaten by Naomi Osaka in straight sets in what was a pretty competitive match. Conversely, Cornet has not won a match since Cincinnati and suffered a strangely one sided first round loss at the hands of Jennifer Brady in Guangzhou last week.

It was Alize Cornet who won the first 5 career meetings between the two, Strycova has won 2 of their last 3 matches. Overall it is Cornet with al 6-2 head-to-head advantage. Their most recent clash was at Roland Garros last year, Cornet claimed a comfortable 6-4 6-1 victory. Strycova has won the last 2 matches between the pair on a hard court.

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Johanna Konta, Wuhan R1 Preview

? Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, R1 Preview
?? (16) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? Johanna Konta

Ash Barty had her big breakthrough at a major event in Wuhan 12 months ago when she made it all the way to the final. The pressure is on Barty this week to defend her finalist points and she begins her 2018 campaign with a potentially tough opening round clash against Johanna Konta. Barty has won the last couple of matches between the two and will be the favourite to make it 3 wins in a row over the Brit.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during her third-round match at the 2018 US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Barty and Konta were both in action in Tokyo last week, both suffered disappointing second round losses. Barty was beaten by Victoria Azarenka in straight sets, whilst Konta was beaten by Donna Vekic in straight sets. In general it has been Barty that has been in the much better form over the last few months, highlighted by a semi-final showing in Montreal and a run to the fourth round at the US Open.

Barty holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Konta. The most recent match between the pair took place in the Nottingham final earlier this year, a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win for Barty. Barty also beat Konta in Wuhan last year on route to the final, a match that ended in a third set tiebreak.

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Aryna Sabalenka vs. Carla Suarez Navarro, Wuhan R1 Preview

? Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, R1 Preview
?? Aryna Sabalenka vs. ?? Carla Suarez Navarro

Aryna Sabalenka and Carla Suarez Navarro kick-start their Asian swings with an opening round clash in Wuhan on Monday. The pair squared off last month in the New Haven final, Sabalenka claimed a comfortable victory on that occasion. Can Suarez Navarro avenge that loss in Wuhan?

Arena Sabalenka of Belarus warms up for practice at the 2018 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

It will be interesting to see if Sabalenka can maintain her strong form from the North American hard court swing throughout the remainder of the year. Sabalenka played career best tennis over the last few months, reaching the semi-final in Cincinnati, winning the title in New Haven and reaching the fourth round in New York. The early signs are that she may not be able to continue that form after an opening round loss in Quebec City at the hands of Varvara Lepchenko a few weeks ago. Sabalenka will need to quickly regain her rhythm for a tough opening round clash against Suarez Navarro in Wuhan.

Suarez Navarro also had a great North American hard court swing. Suarez Navarro reached the final in New Haven before claiming some big wins on route to a quarter-final showing at the US Open. Suarez Navarro will enter this match keen for revenge after she was comfortably beaten by Sabalenka in the New Haven final.

Sabalenka smashed Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-4 in their only previous clash last month in New Haven. Suarez Navarro was unable to handle the firepower of a red-hot Sabalenka on that occasion but seemingly have a greater chance heading into this match.

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