Maria Sharapova vs Jelena Ostapenko
If you’re a fan of women’s tennis, then you should be tingling with excitement with the way the Italian Open has been set up.
There is a good mix of players still standing in Rome, and all of them can provide the type of fantastic tennis that can make you go to your favourite betting sites and punt. With names such as Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki still in the mix, there’s little doubt that there will be plenty of fantastic tennis action to be seen on Italian clay.
However, the game that seems to be the most intriguing is the one between Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko. While the two haven’t officially met on the tour, their match will be a battle of generations. Will the Russian be able to reinstate the dominance of her generation? Or will she cede to the young Ostapenko’s strong clay game?
Many neutrals and pundits leave one eye on Sharapova whenever she’s participating in a tournament. Some may say that the blemish of her doping scandal is far behind her, but I don’t feel like she’s returned to her pre-doping reputation until she at least makes a deep run in Paris.
With that being said, it’s important for her to make a statement against Ostapenko, the defending Women’s Singles champion of the French Open. She has always found success in the clay, despite her disappointing exits in Stuttgart and Madrid.
Sharapova’s fans that bet on her at online bookies hope Rome will bring better tidings for their favourite Russian. She gives her supporters some bit of hope by saying that she has a “good inner feeling” for the coming French Open.
The 31-year-old said: “I like the way I’m competing and the way I feel out there. It’s an inner feeling. I like the attitude that I’m playing with.”
If Sharapova feels like her edge that won her the 2012 and 2014 French Open titles is back, then there’s a lot of reasons for Ostapenko to be cautious.
However, I don’t think the Latvian has any reason to be unnecessarily nervous ahead of this game. After all, everyone highly rates her as one of the future stars of the sport when Sharapova, Serena Williams and the rest of the old guard decide to hang up their rackets for good.
While Ostapenko is 11 years younger than Sharapova, she is definitely playing a more dominant tennis than her Russian counterpart. Her aggressive nature helped her win the French Open, though that same nature also cost her a lot of matches. She can easily assert her dominance on clay and will force Sharapova to go on the offensive for several of her service games.
It will be tough to figure out how these two will fare against one another as they haven’t faced each other at all. However, there is one important clue that we can check out, and the evidence will bring us back to Madrid.
Irina-Camelia Begu pulled off an incredible upset over Ostapenko during the first round of the Madrid Masters, 6-3 6-3. The Romanian, currently ranked the 41st best female player in the world, shut out the 20-year-old’s service game with some great returns and breaks. She also made sure that Ostapenko won’t be able to get to her serves, converting 67% of her 36 first serves.
Sharapova made quick work of Begu despite enduring a fierce resistance from the 27-year-old. Begu’s performance against Ostapenko gives Sharapova and her fans that go to sports betting sites a peek into what can most likely rattle the Latvian during the match.
However, it’s important to remember that Ostapenko has probably made her adjustments in Rome. She took down Shuai Zhang in straight sets and managed to come back from a 2-6 deficit to beat Johanna Konta in the third round.
What are the odds?
Online bookies give Sharapova the advantage, but I don’t think she’ll be able to fully leverage on her current form to will her past the aggressive Ostapenko.
Sure, her matured game will poke at Ostapenko’s weaknesses, but I think her current run in the tournament will leave her no choice but to concede a set.
Still, Sharapova -1.50 @ 2.78 is available if you believe the Russian will be able to use her experience and trickiness against the World No 6. Meanwhile, Ostapenko’s 2.05 Money Line odds sound more attractive. Sure, winning against Sharapova is a tough proposition for everyone, but I feel like Ostapenko has the tools and knowledge to bend the clay-court expert to do her will.
Other notable match-ups
Angelique Kerber vs Elina Svitolina: Angelique Kerber’s climb back to the top of the WTA ladder gets a lot more difficult as the German faces Elina Svitolina. The Ukranian knows how to beat Kerber and is on a fine run of form. No one is sure if Kerber will be able to overcome this quagmire.
Anett Kontaveit vs Caroline Wozniacki: These two ladies have only met on grass courts, but they will surely provide one exciting show. Anett Kontaveit will be a tough cookie for Caroline Wozniacki: took down Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Coco Vandeweghe in straight sets.
Click for more tennis betting options.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.