Fixture: Jelena Ostapenko vs Nao Hibino
Date: 24 September 2020
Tournament: Internationaux de Strasbourg 2020
Venue: Strasbourg, France
Category: WTA International
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €225,500
Match timing: 10 am CEST, 1:30pm IST.
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Jelena Ostapenko vs Nao Hibino preview
Big-hitting Latvian Jelena Ostapenko will face Japan's Nao Hibino on Thursday, in the quarterfinals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
Ostapenko was pushed hard by Kiki Bertens in the Round of 16, but she turned the tables after trailing for the most part of the match. In a fashion reminiscent of her only Grand Slam title win, the 2017 French Open champion produced a stunning comeback from 2-6, 2-4 down to win four straight games and level the match.
The Latvian was down 0-2 in the final set too, but again won four consecutive games to lead 4-2 - at which point Bertens was forced to retire due to injury.
A former World No. 5, Jelena Ostapenko said after the match that she is working hard to return to the position where she once was and to win another Grand Slam. Ostapenko is playing only her second tournament since the resumption of the tour, and after the opening round defeat in Rome, a win over the Number 3 seed Bertens should give her a huge boost in confidence.
Nao Hibino, meanwhile, ended her three-match losing streak since the resumption of the tour with a huge win over Sloane Stephens in the opening round. She then continued her run by beating Zarina Diyas in the Round of 16 on Wednesday.
Hibino won 69% of her first serve points and was solid on the return, breaking Diyas five times to register a 7-5, 6-3 win.
The World No. 76 was on a five-match losing streak on the tour overall before this week, dating back to Acapulco. In that context, Hibino's Strasbourg wins should be a huge confidence-builder going into Roland Garros next week.
Jelena Ostapenko vs Nao Hibino head-to-head
The head-to-head between Jelena Ostapenko currently stands at 2-0 in favor of the Latvian.
Ostapenko won their two previous meetings pretty comfortably, in straight sets, although both of them came on hardcourt.
Jelena Ostapenko vs Nao Hibino prediction
Jelena Ostapenko has managed to squeeze into the last eight of a tournament for the first time in 11 months; the last time she did it was during her title win at Luxembourg towards the business end of 2019. It must be noted, however, that the World No. 43 has played only four tournaments since, largely due to the COVID break.
The match against Nao Hibino will likely be on the Latvian's racket. The counter-punching Japanese player's loopy groundstrokes should theoretically sit up well for Ostapenko, one of the biggest hitters on tour.
Hibino's best strategy would be to force errors out of Ostapenko, which come in huge numbers if the inconsistent 23-year-old loses her momentum in a match.
Both players have a weak serve, so there could be several breaks in the match. But at the end of the day, Ostapenko's greater firepower is likely to tilt the scales in her favor.
Prediction: Jelena Ostapenko to win in three sets.Published 23 Sep 2020, 23:51 IST