Ostapenko can shine if she errs on the side of recklessness

It’s finals day for the ladies at Roland Garros and Jeļena Ostapenko can become the first Latvian player to win the event if she stays true to the fearless game plan that has put her in position to make history.

Friday at Roland Garros conjured up few surprises.

The match between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka was always going to be close.

Murray’s status as world number one isn’t really a true reflection of his current form and Wawrinka has always been solid on clay.

The better player on the day was always going to emerge victorious, and that was Wawrinka. Simple as that.

In the other semi-final, Rafael Nadal, with a 10th Roland Garros crown in his sights, was unstoppable against Dominic Thiem.

Yes, Thiem beat Nadal in Rome a few weeks ago but Nadal’s legacy wasn’t at stake then, it is now. And when really under the pump, ‘The King of Clay’ almost always delivers his best.

Thiem can hold his high but there was only ever going to be one winner in yesterday’s meeting. The Austrian’s time will come. That became even more apparent over these last two weeks in Paris.

Looking ahead to Saturday and the women’s final is an exciting prospect. Ostapenko and Simona Halep’s styles are similar.

You can expect plenty of aggression and quite a few short points. Both ladies are expected to play their shots and go for winners whenever the opportunities to do so present themselves.

The obvious prediction is Halep. While she has never won a grand slam title she has experience at the business end of these competitions and that will surely count for something against her 20-year-old opponent.

Working with Darren Cahill again, Halep also trusts herself more in the big moments now than she did a few months ago. That confidence in her emotional control should give her a boost and only add to the argument that this is her tournament to lose.

However, if Ostapenko can stay true to her pugnacious approach that has served her so well throughout the tournament, then I believe she has every chance of upsetting the Romanian.

Her semi-final opponent, Timea Bacsinszky described how hard it is to play against her because she is willing to take risks that few others even consider.

“She’s 20, not afraid of anything,” Bacsinszky said after she lost on Thursday.

“She doesn’t measure maybe what she’s doing right now. She probably doesn’t care.

“Best example is the match point. I serve very well wide. She’s, like, hitting as hard as she can down the line from nowhere. It comes above the net and in the corner and, I mean, who tries that? Seriously? I mean, it’s like one out of 10. But she does it.

“So we’ll see if she does it at 28 years old.”

Playing like that in a semi-final is one thing. To do it in a final is another altogether.

Far more accomplished players than Ostapenko have tightened up under the enormity of a grand slam decider.

Prior to Roland Garros, she had never made it past the third round at one of tennis’ big four. This is unchartered territory for her.

The Latvian’s biggest threat today will be herself. If she can stay out of her own way, she can win. I mean, she hits the ball as hard as Andy Murray!

If she allows the occasion to alter her approach though, Halep will have no problems.

Are you ready for world class clay court tennis? Don’t miss a single moment by catching all the LIVE Roland Garros 2017 action on FOX Sports Play.

Comments