BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells, R2 Match Preview
(5) ?? Dominika Cibulkova vs ?? Jelena Ostapenko
Dominika Cibulkova and Jelena Ostapenko will go head-to-head for just the second time when they collide at the second round stage of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday. Cibulkova claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over Ostapenko on the grass at Eastbourne last year in their only previous match. Friday’s match should be closer one, in some ways Ostapenko could be seen as an inexperienced version of Cibulkova. Both have a diminutive stature but both possess extreme firepower from the ground.
Dominika Cibulkova has been unable to find her best tennis on a consistent basis in 2017. The Slovakian will be looking to reverse that trend over the next month in Indian Wells and Miami. Cibulkova had mixed results last month, making the semi-finals in St. Petersburg and Doha but was beaten in a tight third set on each occasion (against Yulia Putitnsea in St. Petersburg and Karolina Pliskova in Doha). The world number 5 then went on to lose her opening match to Ekaterina Makarova in Dubai, her second defeat at the hands of the Russian in 2017 after Makarova also upset Cibulkova at the third round stage of the Australian Open.
Jelena Ostapenko has also been a bit of a tease in 2017. The Latvian has shown that her best is brilliant, most notably at the Australian Open where she produced some outstanding tennis to find herself in a winning position against Karolina Pliskova, However, Ostapenko continues to show that she isn’t quite mature or tough enough at the moment to take the next step. Ostapenko was beaten by three players ranked below her last month. Ostapenko only just avoided another upset loss in her opening round match at the BNP Paribas Open as she fought past Danka Kovinic 6-4 2-6 7-6. Kovinic served for the match at 5-4 in the final set, so it was a lucky escape for Ostapenko.
I expect Cibulkova to be too strong for Ostapenko here. As mentioned above, there are a lot of similarities in the way these two play, but crucially Cibulkova is far more experienced and far tougher mentally. Cibulkova is a better mover and is more likely to make better decisions throughout the match. Therefore, it is very likely that Cibulkova will emerge victorious.