Caroline Wozniacki will be going for her first ever win against first-time Slam quarter-finalist, Jelena Ostapenko when the pair meet in the last eight of the French Open on Tuesday.
Wozniacki d. Kuznetsova, 6-1 4-6 6-2 (R4)
Wozniacki delivered an aggressive display to beat off former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova in one of her best ever displays on clay. It looked set to be a gruelling match after the pair each fought hard to hold their opening service games. Wozniacki broke away at 1-1 to win five games on the trot. The Dane was noticeably more aggressive than usual as she went after her shots, and also mixed in variety with slices and drop shots. Wozniacki frequently seemed to wrong-foot Kuznetsova, who looked flat early doors.
After an early exchange of breaks in the second set, the set proceeded with serve. Wozniacki backed off and produced more errors but a mostly passive, Kuznetsova was unable to take advantage of a break point at 4-3*. The Russian player stepped up her level with some bold play to break for the second set – a cracking winner down-the-line, followed by a passing shot winner on set point, admittedly with a slice of net cord luck.
Wozniacki quickly went up a double break in the decider – Kuznetsova responded with her best tennis of the match to get one of the breaks back. The Russian player had a break point to get on level terms to 3-3 but Wozniacki slammed the door shut. From there, Wozniacki’s first set level returned as she ran for the finish line and closed out the match with a thunderous backhand winner down-the-line.
A surprise result considering this was on clay, but not so much based on Wozniacki’s competitiveness in 2017 and Kuznetsova’s gruelling run to the fourth round.
Ostapenko d. Stosur, 2-6 6-2 6-4 (R4)
Serving for her first ever Slam quarter-final, Ostapenko held her nerve and completed a superb win over former Roland Garros finalist, Sam Stosur. The Aussie had started strongly, preventing Ostapenko from finding her rhythm with big serving, top spin forehands and slices. The match turned at the start of the second set with Ostapenko producing a pair of stunning winners at *1-2 *15-30 – there was an outrageous cross-court forehand winner that blew my mind! Ostapenko was in the zone and Stosur struggled to get her out of it – having struggled to hold serve early on, Ostapenko dropped just one point behind serve in her final two service games of the second set.
Stosur took a medical time-out between the second and third sets for a hand injury. She did seem to wince a few times in the decider. The Aussie served well to stay in contention but was frequently second best in the rallies as Ostapenko came up with some peak hitting and some stunning winners into the corners. The Latvian player was mentally tough too, saving four break points at *4-3. Stosur missed some returns she’ll want back but Ostapenko was just too good. Despite one double fault in the final game, she confidently closed out the match to 15.
Head-to-head record: Ostapenko leads Wozniacki in their head-to-head, 3-0. Ostapenko has won twice during this clay court season in Charleston (6-2 6-4) and Prague (5-7 6-3 7-6) hitting 40 and 70 winners respectively! Ostapenko saved a match point in the match in Prague.
Interesting stat: Ostapenko has been a winning machine during this clay court season and has won 18 matches on clay this year.
Final thoughts: This will be the biggest match of Ostapenko’s career and while she has handled the pressure well up till now, this will be a brand new situation and also, playing on a big show court. Against Wozniacki, she will know what she needs to do and has the confidence from those three previous wins. Wozniacki came as close as you can get in Prague to beating Ostapenko and has the superior experience at this stage of a Slam. The Dane will need to hit with depth to stop the winners flowing from Ostapenko’s racquet. The drop shots and slice could also come in handy, which worked well against Kuznetsova, to break up Ostapenko’s rhythm.
This is yet another women’s match that is tough to call and there are valid reasons in support of both players. I think Ostapenko should win this match but Wozniacki’s experience on big show courts and at the latter stage of Slams could be a factor.