Two players who have impressed so far in Melbourne face off in the final match in the Margaret Court Arena, with fifth seed Karolina Pliskova taking on the unseeded, yet dangerous, Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the fourth round at the Australian Open.
It was Pliskova who won the only previous meeting between the two, in straight sets in Cincinnati last year, and the Czech is in great form, having not lost a match yet in 2017, though Ostapenko has impressed so far in Melbourne and will not be afraid about playing one of the favorites for the title.
The winner of this will face either 22nd seed Daria Gavrilova or 12th seed Timea Bacsinszky in the fourth round.
So far in Melbourne
The fifth seed has cruised to the third round after two dominant performances, though the unseeded Latvian, who’s still only 19, has also impressed as she makes the third round in Melbourne for the first time.
Pliskova started against Sara Sorribes Tormo, wasting no time as she dismissed the Spaniard 6-2, 6-0 out in the Rod Laver Arena. Following that, the Czech was dominant once again, storming past qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-0, 6-2 in less than an hour; she’ll be very tricky to beat in that type of form.
Though she comes into this clash as an underdog, Ostapenko brings some promising form into this clash. The Latvian started against qualifier Zhu Lin, easing past the Chinese 6-4, 6-0. However, her second round win was arguably more impressive, as she stormed past 31st seed Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-1 in a strong performance; the feisty Latvian certainly won’t be short of confidence.
The fifth seed has arguably been the best player in the early stages of this season, and the confidence from her recent run of victories make her a formidable opponent. Pliskova is much taller than Ostapenko, and perhaps a little more powerful so should look to use her big serve to win some cheap points, as well as take control early and dominate. However, Ostapenko is a fairly good mover and may be able to get a lot of balls back; Pliskova cannot get frustrated by the wily Latvian’s often stubborn play.
Ostapenko will be fully aware that she an underdog in this match, though will be very confident and will believe she can cause an upset; that in itself is important. The Latvian will need to serve well against the Czech, who can return so powerfully, and absolutely must keep her composure (something she can struggle with), especially if she gets in front, though should also look to frustrate her opponent by getting as many balls back as possible. Also, it is important for Ostapenko to attack as much as she can, as she probably doesn’t want to repeatedly be dragged into lengthy rallies.
This is likely going to be a fun and high-quality match, especially considering that both are in good form so far in Melbourne. Pliskova should have too much for the Latvian and should get through fairly safely, though Ostapenko should provide a tougher test than her previous matches.
Prediction: Karolina Pliskova in straight sets