WTA Rogers Cup first round preview: Jelena Ostapenko vs Johanna Konta

WTA Rogers Cup first round preview: Jelena Ostapenko vs Johanna Konta

Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta will face off in a blockbuster opening-round clash at the 2018 Rogers Cup.

don-han
Don Han

A battle of former top-five players will take place in the first round of the Rogers Cup as Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Ostapenko takes on the highest-ranked Brit Johanna Konta in a blockbuster first-round clash. Both players adopt a hard-hitting playing style and this hard-hitting affair will definitely be a thrilling one for the fans — and very rarely you will see a match-up between these two in the first round.

In what could be one of the higher-quality opening-round matches here in Montreal, Konta and Ostapenko will fight for a place in the second round with the winner potentially facing the winner of another highly-anticipated clash between Victoria Azarenka and Kristina Mladenovic.

Recent form: Confidence-boosting runs for Konta in recent weeks

Johanna Konta started the year at the ninth spot in the rankings but currently finds herself barely staying inside the top-50 after a series of disappointing results thus far. She failed to defend a huge bulk of points at the Australian Open, falling in the second round at the Happy Slam while also exiting in the third round during her title defence at the Miami Open.

Johanna Konta has recently dropped out of the top-40 for the first time since 2015 | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America
Johanna Konta has recently dropped out of the top-40 for the first time since 2015 | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

The clay-court season was a further disappointment for the Brit as it was her least-preferred surface and she gathered a poor 3-4 win-loss record during this stretch. Two wins came against a relatively high-quality opponent Magdalena Rybarikova but her disappointing results caused her to drop out of the top-20.

Just when she was tipped to improve her results on her home grass courts, she was handed extremely tough draws and faced troubles trying to go deep in the big tournaments. Reaching her first final of the year at the Nature Valley Open, Konta lost a close affair to Ashleigh Barty. However, her next losses came against Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, and Dominika Cibulkova which all happened in the early rounds, reflecting her bad luck when coming to draws.

In what could be her best performance of 2018, Johanna Konta ousted Serena Williams 6-1, 6-0 last week | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America
In what could be her best performance of 2018, Johanna Konta ousted Serena Williams 6-1, 6-0 last week | Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

Nonetheless, the Brit seemed to have finally found her vintage form as she stormed back to defeat former world number one and 23-time Major champion Serena Williams in the first round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, handing the American the worst loss of her career after rattling off 12 consecutive games to claim the huge 6-1, 6-0 win in just 52 minutes. However, she was not able to sustain her good run of form, falling to fourth seed Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals.

Recent form: Ostapenko rebounds from earlier disappointment

A bad start into the year saw Ostapenko leaving Indian Wells with a dismal 4-7 win-loss record despite still keeping her place inside the world’s elite top-10. She finally managed to find her streaky form at the Miami Open though, storming to the final without losing a set and defeating Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina in the process.

Being so efficient on clay the previous year, Ostapenko’s clay-court results could be considered poor according to her standards. Two quarterfinals run came in Stuttgart and Rome, and on both occasions, Ostapenko lost marathon epics against Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sharapova respectively. Uncharacteristic first-round exits came at the Mutua Madrid Open, and more importantly the French Open where she was the defending champion but crashed out in the opening round to the unheralded Kateryna Kozlova in straight sets.

Jelena Ostapenko reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon Championships this year | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Jelena Ostapenko reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon Championships this year | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

The grass-court season was a huge boost to Ostapenko’s confidence after her fall out of the top-10. She reached the quarterfinals at the Nature Valley International and the semifinals at Wimbledon and is looking to close in on a return to the elite batch in the near future. This will be Ostapenko’s first hard-court match in the lead-up to the US Open.

Head to Head: Past meetings split between the pair

Konta defeated Ostapenko in their first meeting in Eastbourne last year, just one month after the Latvian’s heroics in Paris. The 2017 Roland Garros champion exacted revenge for that loss at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia this year, overcoming a slow start to defeat the Brit with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 scoreline.

Match Analysis: Consistency is the key

Both players are hard-hitting players and are daring enough to often take the risks in their games during the match. Konta is the bigger hitter but it is Ostapenko who has the tendency to miss much more. The Brit will be looking to find her groove on her groundstrokes and maintain the consistent rhythm although Ostapenko is definitely capable enough to ruin the rhythm with her angles and variety.

Jelena Ostapenko comes into the encounter as the slight favourite | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Jelena Ostapenko comes into the encounter as the slight favourite | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Konta will need to be at her absolute best while Ostapenko needs to find her rhythm. If both players do find the momentum in their games, this match is going to be a thrilling one.

Match Prediction: Ostapenko d. Konta in three sets

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