Petra Kvitova and Jelena Ostapenko square off in Doha on Wednesday as they battle for a quarter final spot at the Premier 5 tournament.
Kvitova vs Ostepenko is live from Doha on Wednesday, 26 February from 2:00pm local time/ 11:00am GMT
Kvitova kick-started her campaign with victory over fellow former champion, Carla Suarez Navarro, recovering from a slow start to power to a 4-6 6-3 6-0 win.
The Czech left-hander had not played since withdrawing from her St. Petersburg quarter final against Ekaterina Alexandrova due to illness, and the two-time major winner took some time to going against Suarez Navarro who had caused her plenty of problems in the past.
2016 Doha champion, Suarez Navarro, in her final season on tour, made the brighter start, landing 74% of her first serves as she took the opening set 6-4, but Kvitova got better as the match progressed, and eventually dominated her Spanish opponent with her blistering power. The Czech struck 39 winners and just 29 unforced errors, powering to victory in an hour and 48 minutes. Overall, Kvitova won 70% of points on her first serve and 69% on his second, and didn’t get broken after the opening set, conceding just one break point in the second and third sets combined.
“She’s very dangerous player for me, definitely,” said Kvitova afterwards. “She likes to play slice, she has a great backhand and she mixes up the game a lot. So it took me a while to get used to [her] and to find my rhythm, which luckily I did. That was the difference between the first and the last set.”
Prior to her withdrawal in St. Petersburg, the Czech had made a good start to the year, reaching the semi-finals in her season opener in Brisbane and the quarter finals at the Australian Open, and she will aim to maintain the momentum with another deep run in Doha.
Kvitova is now on a seven-match winning streak in Doha, having won the title in her last visit in 2018. Can the world No. 11 extend that winning streak to eight matches when she confronts Jelena Ostapenko in the third round on Wednesday?
2016 finalist, Ostapenko arrived Doha with only two wins to her name in 2020 (one in the Fed Cup), but she has doubled her win tally for the season this week, scoring contrasting victories over Jil Teichmann and Barbora Strycova to move into the third round.
The former French Open champion needed two and a half hours to get through Teichmann in the first round, battling to a 7-5 2-6 7-5 victory over the Swiss, but she was a lot more comfortable in the second round against Strycova, easing to a 6-1 6-2 victory in just an hour and 18 minutes.
The Latvian won 83% of points on her first serve, while she forced an astounding 18 break points in just over an hour of tennis, taking five of those chances. She did not get broken throughout the match, saving the two break points she faced.
Ostapenko was still a top ten player as at September 2018, but she tumbled to 83rd in the world by July last year following a very poor run of results. The 22-year-old made just one quarter final in her first 25 tournaments of the season, and was seemingly heading nowhere, but she found some form towards the finish line, ending her season with a runner-up finish in Linz and a title run in Moscow to climb back into the top-50 by the end of the year.
She has again been slow off the blocks in 2020, losing to Belinda Bencic in the second round of the Australian Open, and to Alize Cornet in the opening round in St. Petersburg, but she’s managed back-to-back wins in Doha, and will now attempt to reach her first quarter final of the season when she faces Kvitova on Wednesday.
Kvitova and Ostapenko are two of the most aggressive players on tour, with both capable of generating winners from all areas of the court. On the flip side, they can also lose their way and offer up plenty of unforced errors. It’s all about managing the power and controlling the aggression- and whoever does that better will likely win this one. The head-to-head is split at 3-3, and while Ostapenko won their most recent meeting in Miami in 2018, Kvitova has won three of their last four encounters.
Kvitova has the advantage on serve, and also on being left-handed. She has also been playing the better tennis this year, and looks set to take her place in a fourth quarter final in four tournaments this year.