Match Preview: Jelena Ostapenko v Petra Kvitova

Closing out the night session at the Miami Open on Monday, we have a match between two of the biggest hitters in the game who both get incredible power with sixth seed Jelena Ostapenko and ninth seed Petra Kvitova. Despite having the lower seeding, Kvitova is actually the favourite to progress through this fourth round match but only by a rather tight margin.

Recent Form

It is no secret that Jelena Ostapenko has struggled to replicate any hint of her form that she showed last year as she has been really struggling to get back-to-back wins at events let alone contend for titles. After her Australian swing, her first event was the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and she did get a win there before going down to the eventual champion Petra Kvitova herself in the second round. She then went to Fed Cup and, after taking an initial loss to Cagla Buyukackay, she would have gotten some confidence with wins over Magda Linette, Melanie Klaffner and Dejana Radonovic in the pool stages of Fed Cup Europe/Africa Zone Group 1. She was not able to carry some of those wins into her next events which were the Middle Eastern events. She failed to win a set of tennis at either location as Mihaela Buzarnescu got the better of her in the second round of the Qatar Total Open and then it was Elena Vesnina who knocked her out at the same stage in the Dubai Tennis Championships. Her most recent even before Miami was the first half of the Sunshine Double with the BNP Paribas Open and she went out in the third round there to Petra Martic. So far this event, Ostapenko has good two good wins over Timea Babos in the second round 6-4, 6-4 and Beatriz Haddad Maia in the third round 6-2, 7-6(7-2). For Petra Kvitova, after a bit of a slow start, she has been having a great year so far and, for parts of it, has not been able to stop winning. Her Australian Open was heartbreaking as she lost to Andrea Petkovic 10-8 in the first round. She was able to rebound quickly as she won the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy in the week after as she got wins over Julia Goerges, Jelena Ostapenko and Kristina Mladenovic on the way. In her Fed Cup first round against Switzerland, she helped the Czech Republic to the tie victory with wins over Belinda Bencic and Victorija Golubic. The winning did not stop there as she somehow managed to extend her streak to sixteen matches with the Qatar Total Open title after an impressive week that saw her get wins over Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza. All things do eventually come to end and her run of wins did at the BNP Paribas Open when she was upset in the third round by sixteen-year-old Amanda Anisimova. So far this week she has had to fight to get past Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the second round and Sofia Kenin 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round. There is no way you cannot give the edge to Kvitova as she is one of the most in-form players right now on tour right now while Ostapenko is in a bit of a slump.

Miami Record

Normally, this has been a dismal event for Jelena Ostapenko as she has played here twice and never been able to win a match. She made her event debut in 2016 and she fell in the first round of qualifying to Sachia Vickery and then when she came back last year she did get directly into the main draw but fell to Madison Brengle in the first round. Petra Kvitova is in a rather different position as she has played under the sun here eight times with her average result being the third round. Her best performance was in 2014 when she reached the quarterfinals before taking a straightforward loss to Maria Sharapova. Her worst result is the first round and she has fallen at that stage twice with the first time coming on her debut in 2008 when she was 18 and fell to Kaia Kanepi in a three-set battle and then she went out in the first round in 2009 but this time to Sabine Lisicki. Despite neither woman having a glittering record, the edge in this area does have to go to Kvitova due to Ostapenko’s striking lack of results here.

Head to Head Record

It is rather surprising, seeing that Jelena Ostapenko is just 20 years old, that she and Petra Kvitova have played a total of five times throughout their careers with the older more experienced Kvitova leading the head to head 3-2, with the majority of their meetings coming on a hard court. The last time Ostapenko did get a win was back in 2016  on the grass at the Aegon Classic Birmingham when she upset fifth seed Kvitova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. This is a result that does really surprise me because normally when it is a bad day for Kvitova she can find a way on grass so the only real explanation is this was a very bad day for the fifth seed and Ostapenko was just hitting bombs. The first real blow-out match came later that year at the Wuhan Open when the eventual champion and fourteenth seed Kvitova breezed past Ostapenko 6-3, 6-1 in the first round. This will be a common scoreline between these two because with their hit-and-miss game styles one of them will most likely be firing shots for winners easily and the other will be missing a lot and with Kvitova going on to win the event we already know she was playing well at that time. Their most recent meeting was a couple of weeks ago at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy when eventual champion and wildcard Petra Kvitova blew past second seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-0, 6-2. I did watch this match and it was just dreadful from the higher ranked seed as she was missing so many shots and Kvitova was just blowing a lot of her returns for winners. I have to give the edge in terms of match-up to Kvitova because not only does she have the overall lead but she has won the last three straight matches.

My Prediction

I do think this one will be a bit tighter than some of their previous meetings because not only is Petra Kvitova not in the imperious form she has been in for their last couple of meetings but it seems like Jelena Ostapenko is playing that little bit better this week. I do think that with Kvitova hitting more errors than usual, this match could get a bit ugly because Ostapenko will still hit quite a few errors even if she is playing her top tennis. I think that it will be a bad start for Kvitova, as it has been often this event, and she will go down the early break with Ostapenko managing to keep the ball in the court enough. As the sixth seed edges closer to the opener, I think some more errors will come and Kvitova will work her way back into the set but eventually, there will be enough composure from Ostapenko to close it out 7-5. I think heading into the second set, Kvitova will be feeling good and will get out to a good start with a break lead and even if Osapenko does get a break here or there, Kvitova will target the weak second serve and recover the break lead again for the 6-3 set. I think it will be a tight start from both in the decider with a couple of breaks exchanged up until about 3-3, when Kvitova will put her game face on and revel in the pressure to play some great tennis and reel off the next three games for 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 win.

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