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Italian Open 2024: Aryna Sabalenka vs Jelena Ostapenko; Preview, Head-to-Head, and Prediction

Published 05/15/2024, 3:16 AM EDT

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via Reuters

Everyone knows a wounded tiger is a dangerous beast! Fans have witnessed Aryna Sabalenka giving it all on the courts when she faced Elina Svitolina in the R16 of the 2024 Italian Open. Although she won the match by 4-6,6-1,7-6(7) in a late-night thriller, there is a slight concern about her fitness levels ahead of the mega QF clash against Jelena Ostapenko. 

There was a concerning medical timeout taken by Aryna Sabalenka during her match against the Latvian. Just after winning the second set, physios were seen running towards and treating for a lower back and hip issue. It’ll be interesting to see if she turns up to the court fully fit against her Top 10 opponent on Wednesday (May 15). Jelena Ostapenko is also entering into this intriguing contest after a grueling three-set thriller against Slovak tennis player, Rebecca Sramkova. Will fatigue play a crucial role in deciding the winner of this match?

Aryna Sabalenka vs Jelena Ostapenko: Preview

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Aryna Sabalenka had a dream start to her season this year. She reached the finals of the Brisbane International and then went on to successfully defend her title at the 2024 Australian Open. After that, the performance graph dropped down a little bit, but she quickly gathered her form ahead of the clay court swing. She reached one QF and one Final in the rest of her tournaments ahead of the Italian Open. In the Italian Open, she has yet to showcase her dominating presence against her opponents.

It took her three sets twice to decide the winner in her previous three matches in Rome. In the last match, she hit just three aces and committed only one double fault against Svitolina. Her first serve win percentage was 58%, but it dropped to 50% on her second serve. However, she successfully managed to convert six of seven breakpoints in that match. Aryna Sabalenka loves serving big! Reflecting a bit on her numbers from this season, she has fired in 137 aces and committed 87 double faults. Sabalenka has won 78.7% of her service games and 36.5% of her return games so far.

Can Jelena Ostapenko outclass the mighty Belarusian in her next match? Even, Ostapenko was forced to play three setters twice in her previous three matches. In her last match, she defeated Sramkova by 4-6,6-4,7-6(3). The Latvian tennis star managed to hit seven aces and committed six double faults in the entire match. Her first serve win percentage was just around 58% while on the second serve, it was 55%. She converted six out of her twelve breakpoints against Sramkova.

Looking at her numbers from this season, the number ten has hit 107 aces and committed quite a few double faults (126) this season. She has won 71.4% of her service games compared to just 36.4% of her return games. She surely has to bring control in her serves to give herself a chance against the world number two.

Sabalenka vs Ostapenko: Head-to-Head

Talking about chances, well Ostapenko did get the chance to meet Sabalenka twice in her career. But unfortunately for the Latvian, she had to face defeat on both occasions. Their first meeting was at Zhengzhou in 2019 where Aryna Sabalenka defeated her by 6-1,6-2. However, in the next meeting at the Dubai Tennis Championships, it took three sets for the Belarusian to seal the deal against Ostapenko.

Sabalenka defeated her 2-6,6-1,6-1 and in that match, she hit five aces and committed two double faults. Whereas, Ostapenko hit four aces and yet again she committed quite a few double faults (7). Aryna Sabalenka’s first serve win percentage was 68% and her second serve win percentage in that match was 57%. But it was just 57% and 40% respectively for Jelena Ostapenko. But the Latvian managed to convert three out of her four breakpoints successfully in that match. Whereas, the Belarusian could only manage to convert six of her thirteen breakpoints.

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Prediction: Sabalenka is going to win this exciting contest

But there is one condition! If she’s fully fit, she can surely overcome this Latvian hurdle easily but if not, then Jelena Ostapenko is quite capable of upsetting the Belarusian tennis star. With the French Open knocking at the door, it’ll be interesting to see if Sabalenka takes any precautionary measures ahead of this clash. Aryna Sabalenka reached the SF of the Italian Open in 2022, while Jelena Ostapenko achieved the same a year later. Ostapenko has a win-loss record of 19-8 this season, whereas Sabalenka is on 20-6.

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In this battle, there will be no shortage of aggression. Aryna Sabalenka is a baseliner with a powerful and aggressive style of play. She loves to rely on her powerful serves and her thunderous groundstrokes. However, putting a check on her double faults will also be a key to her success in this match. Ostapenko is also an aggressive baseliner. Her strongest weapon is her backhand, but she can hit a lot of forehand winners as well. But if we talk about the winner of this matchup. Well, if Sabalenka is fully fit, she’s surely going to win this match.

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Written by

Sayantan Roy

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Sayantan Roy is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports, who crafts tennis tales that not only capture the game's essence but also reflect his creative genius. As a believer in unbiased journalism, Sayantan, a fan of both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, loves to fuse the world of such tennis rivals and present balanced copies as fan reaction pieces. Engaged in sports since college, he brings that passion to life.
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