Two former slam champions will go head to head on Tuesday when Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka go head to head in the opening round of the French Open. Somewhat unfortunately for both, any hopes of igniting their season will be diminished by the draw – placing the winner likely against World No.1 Naomi Osaka in round two.
Ostapenko has had a disastrous last 12 months, holding just a 17-23 record on the main tour in that period. It began with a disastrous attempt at defending her French Open title, losing in the first round and most recently she somewhat controversially retired in Rome down 2-6 4-5 against Mihaela Buzarnescu. The Latvian played some stunning tennis to win in 2017 but there really hasn’t even been any glimpse of that performer since.
Azarenka keeps showing flickers of former self but has often struggled to put it together against the better players, often fading in longer matches. She did pick up a great comeback win against a rusty Elina Svitolina in Rome but failed to build on it later in the tournament, losing from a set up against the eventual champion Karolina Pliskova. A few more wins could have put her in a seeded spot but as it is, she is going to need to way until at least Wimbledon to get a bit more draw luck.
During the draw when this match revealed, the announcer quite crassly commented on how this match would have been much better two years ago. Ostapenko has looked nothing like the superstar that won the event two years ago while Azarenka is still finding it hard to get back to her highest level. Should they both be able to put it together at the same time though, this match still has the chance to be an epic.
Prediction – Victoria Azarenka in three sets