Match Preview: Jelena Ostapenko v Carla Suarez Navarro

Today in Eastbourne we have Jelena Ostapenko playing her first match since capturing the French Open against the experienced Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth and final match on Court 1. The favourite heading into the match is Jelena Ostapenko but only by quite a small margin.

Recent Form

Jelena Ostapenko had a very inconsistent clay-court season but it ended with the highest of highs. She started the clay-court season very well as she made a run to the final of Charleston with wins over Caroline Wozniacki and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni before falling to Daria Kasatkina in the final. She then fell in the first round of Stuttgart to Coco Vandeweghe before going on a run to the semifinals of Prague with a win over Caroline Wozniacki before ultimately falling to Kristyna Pliskova. Just before her title run at Rolland Garros she fell in the second round of Rome to Garbine Muguruza. Then came her fairytale fortnight at the French Open as she took her first grand slam in a tournament where she got wins over Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep. These results have put her at number 4 in the Race to Singapore, which means she has a good shot at being in the year-end championships. Carla Suarez Navarro missed the start of the season due to injury but has been getting a few good wins recently. Her clay season started in Stuttgart where she fell in the quarterfinals to Kristina Mladenovic and then she went to Madrid and went out to Coco Vandeweghe in the third round. She played two tournaments in the two weeks before the French Open in Rome, where she lost to Lauren Davis in the first round, and then in Strasbourg, where Samantha Stosur defeated her in the quarterfinals. Then at the French Open she made a run to the fourth round before she went out to the eventual finalist Simona Halep.

Eastbourne Record

Jelena Ostapenko has only played at this event once before, which was last year, when she reached the second round. In the two matches she has played here she has beaten Daria Kasatkina but then fell to Dominika Cibulkova, who was playing great tennis this time last year. Suarez Navarro on the other hand has played this event four times before  but hasn’t had much success. Her worst result here was in 2009 on her debut and also in 2012, when she fell in the first round to Zheng Jie and Stephanie Dubois respectively. Her best results were in 2015 and 2016 when she fell in the second round to Sloane Stephens and Misaki Doi respectively. Although it wasn’t the best result last year it does mean that she has already defended all her points.

Head to Head Record

These two have played each other twice before, once on grass two years ago and the other time on clay last year. Their first meeting was in 2015 in the first round of Wimbledon on the grass which Ostapenko won handily 6-2, 6-0. This shows that Suarez Navarro isn’t very comfortable on the surface but we all know that some days Ostapenko is unplayable and that is what probably what happened on that day. Their other meeting was in the 2016 Doha final on hard courts which Saurez Navarro ended up taking 1-6, 6-4, 6-4. Ostapenko might have showed some nerves on that occasion because it was the Latvian’s first ever final but this also may have had something to do with Suarez Navarro playing very well at that time of the season. I think that this head to head is quite even with both matches so there is not much to analyse.

Prediction

Ostapenko doesn’t seem to show nerves so I don’t think that it will bother her that she’s playing her first match since the French Open title. I don’t think Suarez Navarro will be feeling much pressure because she knows that she isn’t the best grass court player. I think Ostapenko will start well and hit quite a few winners early to jump out to a break lead before she closes the set 6-2. I think that Ostapenko will go through one of her mini slumps and make quite a few errors on the way to losing the second set quickly 6-1. I think Ostapenko will be able to raise her game to sneak through the final set but I think it will be a scrappy set. In the end Suarez Navarro will falter with nerves and Ostapenko will sneak through the victory 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.

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