Jelena Ostapenko will look to advance to her second straight Wimbledon quarterfinal when she meets Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the fourth round on ‘Manic Monday’. Ostapenko is looking to atone for her early exit at the French Open where she was defending champion but fell in the first round to Kozlova. Sasnovich, however, has already proven something of a giant killer and will have another big name firmly in her sights. Who will come out on top?
Ostapenko and Sasnovich have met twice in their careers on Tour. Both matches have gone the distance, with Ostapenko edging out Sasnovich in both. In their first clash, which came three years ago in the semifinals in St Petersburg, Ostapenko recovered from a slow start to win 1-6 6-2 6-4. Their last matchup was at the All England Club last year in the first round, and Ostapenko won 6-0 1-6 6-3 in a match that may bear interesting parallels with this clash.
Path to the fourth round
The 12th seeded Ostapenko has breezed through the Wimbledon draw thus far, not dropping a single set. Her first round match was her closest contest, with the Latvian a 6-3 7-6 winner against British wildcard Katy Dunne on Centre Court. She then demolished 2013 semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-3 in the second round. Ostapenko then broke Sharapova's conqueror Vitalia Diatchenko five times en route to a 6-0 6-4 victory in the third round.
Sasnovich has also been playing extremely well so far during the Championships. She began her tournament with a shock upset of the eighth seed and two-time champion Petra Kvitova. After they split the first two sets each by the score of 6-4, Sasnovich ran away with the decider, winning it to love. She then beat Taylor Townsend 6-0 6-4 to advance to the third round where she upset Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-1.
How do they match up?
Ostapenko has taken full advantage of the fast grass courts of Wimbledon, which due to the hot conditions are playing even faster than usual. The Latvian has used her powerful groundstrokes to devastating effect, bullying her opponents into submission. Her serve, however, has not been firing with the Latvian posting fairly disappointing numbers except against Flipkens. Neither Dunne nor Diatchenko proved able to punish her, Sasnovich might well be.
The Belarussian lacks Ostapenko's outright power off the ground, though there are precious few who can match the 12th seed in that department. But Sasnovich is impressively consistent from the back of the court and has the footspeed to force Ostapenko to deliver her best offensively. Neither player much enjoys coming into the net so the majority of the points will likely be played from the baseline. But Sasnovich has shown good feel in the forecourt and would do well to come in more.
When Ostapenko is at her aggressive best she is dangerous, and that has been the Ostapenko we have seen so far at this year's Championships. Sasnovich has played some fine tennis herself, and defended superbly against Kvitova. But where Kvitova looked overcome by nerves, especially in the decider, the Latvian has been playing freely and hitting the ball confidently. That attacking power should be enough for Ostapenko to edge this match in three.