In a draw full of intriguing opening round matches, one of the most interesting Women’s singles first round clashes sees Jelena Ostapenko, the French Open champion last year, take on former top ten player Andrea Petkovic in what could be a tight clash at the US Open.
It has been up and down year for Ostapenko, who fell in the first round in her title defence at Roland Garros, though the fact that the Latvian is the tenth seed shows that she has still be able to build on that victory last year. However, in Petkovic she faces a tricky opening round task; the German has struggled the past couple of seasons, though has picked up some form this summer and has the experience to cause an upset here.
The two have only met once before, with Ostapenko winning via retirement in Doha in 2016. This will be the first match of the day on the new Court Louis Armstrong on Tuesday, and the winner will face Taylor Townsend or Amanda Anisimova in the second round.
US Open build up
After a second round loss at Wimbledon, Petkovic, who is now down at 89th in the rankings, had a great run at the Citi Open in Washington beating the likes of Sloane Stephens and Belinda Bencic before losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last four. However, she then struggled slightly after that, losing in first round of qualifying to Donna Vekic in Cincinnati, and then retired in the final qualifying round in New Haven to Monica Puig; despite that, her run in Washington suggests she could be a danger here.
Ostapenko came into the hard court summer following a great run at Wimbledon, where she reached the last four for the first time, though has not had a promising run of form since then. At the Rogers Cup in Montreal, she fell to Johanna Konta in her opening match despite leading by a set, and then suffered another defeat from a set up at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, where she was beaten Alize Cornet. Though she has not had a great build up, a good run here from Ostapenko should surprise no one.
Ostapenko is an incredibly aggressive player, and there can be no doubt that she will be frequently looking to dictate player throughout the encounter. The Latvian, however, can be inconsistent with both her serves and groundstrokes, so must try to limit the number of unforced errors she produces, though her game style means that some will naturally occur. Petkovic, meanwhile, must look to try and force these mistakes from the tenth seed, and must try to match her aggression to try and take control of player, and produce her own winners to make her rely less on mistakes from her opponent.
Both women can be inconsistent servers, though of the two it is Petkovic who can have more issues, especially in the past couple of years where she has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies. The German must look for a high serve percentage, as Ostapenko is more than capable of punishing her is she doesn’t, whilst she must also try to soak up her opponent’s power and not allow herself to be bullied around the court. Also, it will be interesting to see if Petkovic can regularly take control of the rallies, as she has a chance to cause an upset here if she takes control away from Ostapenko.
Despite the difference in ranking between the two, this is not a particularly easy match to call, partly due to the fact that it is hard to predict what we will see from either of the two. Overall, it seems that having been in better form overall in the past few months, Ostapenko should be able to take this, though Petkovic is more than capable of causing the tenth seed plenty of problems.
Prediction: Jelena Ostapenko in three sets