It will be a battle of grand slam winners on Arthur Ashe Stadium to begin the night session with Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko battling for a place in the fourth round. It would be Ostapenko’s first time in the second week in New York while Sharapova is a former winner having won in 2006.
After beating Petkovic in three in round one, it was another topsy turvy clash for Ostapenko on Thursday. She had to come from a set down to beat Taylor Townsend 4-6 6-3 6-4 while hitting 15 double faults in the process. The weakness of the Latvian’s serve is well documented but this was a level above her usual struggles. Down 3-4, it would not have been surprising for her to throw in a bad service game and meekly depart but she held with ease and closed out the match by winning the next two games.
Sharapova had serving troubles of her own in beating Sorana Cirstea, serving 10 double faults in the 6-2 7-5 win over the Romanian. She had to dig deep at the back end of the second set, winning the last three games for the loss of three points as Cirstea served for the second set. “I finished really strong. I think that’s what matters. Actually gives me great confidence that if I was able to play that way to come through, I have a chance in the next one.” she said afterwards.
Sharapova and Ostapenko have played just once with the Russian winning a thriller back at Rome earlier in the year. “She’s young and fearless, comes out swinging. She’s a Grand Slam champion, so that speaks for itself. She’s got that experience in Grand Slams already. I think she likes the matchup of playing against me. [We’re] both quite aggressive players.” she said. If both players serving yips subside for even a while, there’s no doubt this match has the opportunity to be one of the best of the tournament.
Prediction – Maria Sharapova in three sets