Pliskova condemns ‘terrible’ level in French Open defeat to Ostapenko
Second seed Karolina Pliskova became the highest-ranked player to fall at the French Open as she lost to former champion Jelena Ostapenko.
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Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko knocked world no. 3 Karolina Pliskova out of the 2020 French Open 6-4, 6-2.
Ostapenko began the match by breaking to love and although she handed the advantage back immediately, went on to break Pliskova’s serve five more times through the course of the 70-minute defeat – not an impressive showing from the player nicknamed the ‘ace queen’.
Pliskova called her own performance ‘terrible’.
The Czech said:
‘I’m sure I could do much better. I know that she can be tough if she’s playing well, but I think everything started with me. I was definitely not playing great. I think maybe same level as the match before but of course she’s a much better player.’
Pliskova had been pushed to three sets by Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif in the first round before winning 6-7(9), 6-2, 6-4. The Czech reached the final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where she was the defending champion, a week before the start of Roland Garros but retired in the final due to a thigh injury.
This is the sixth Grand Slam in a row that Pliskova has failed to make it to the quarterfinals despite being a top-eight seed. It is also the sixth time in nine French Open appearances that she has failed to win back-to-back matches. Pliskova’s best result at the French Open came in 2017 when she reached the semifinals.
Pliskova lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round of the Australian Open and Caroline Garcia in the second round of the US Open. She is 3-2 in Grand Slam matches in 2020 and 13-4 in WTA Tour matches.
‘I think I relaxed a bit in the second set. Of course, she was playing an ugly game. There was not much room or not many points where I would really feel great. But I was able to find a bit better level than in the first set. But like, never giving up. That’s the only thing that I can do, no matter how it goes. There’s always a chance against these players. For them it’s tough to close the match.’
Ostapenko never gave Pliskova the slightest chance. The two have played some lengthy matches, including their first meeting on the Grand Slam stage at the Australian Open in 2017 when Pliskova won 10-8 in the third set after Ostapenko had led 5-2. But there were no theatrics from the Latvian today. She played a steady, intelligent match, and displayed a more well-rounded game than the outright ball-bashing which saw her storm to an unlikely French Open victory three years ago as the world no. 47.
Now ranked world no. 43, Ostapenko had a torrid 2018 season which saw her plummet to world no. 83 before starting to rebound at the end of 2019 when she reached WTA Tour finals in Linz and Luxembourg, winning the latter.
Asked how her tennis today compared to the tennis she played to win the title in 2017, Ostapenko said:
‘It’s hard to compare because that was 3 years ago and I was fearless, nobody really knew me but now players get to know me more. Obviously they know me already. They know how I can play. They know how to play against me.’
Ostapenko could face Sloane Stephens, the French Open runner-up in 2018, in the third round.
Aryna Sabalenka, the eighth seed, also made it through to the last 32 on Thursday, squeezing through a tight first set against Daria Kasatkina before running away with the second 7-6(6), 6-0. Seventh seed Petra Kvitova glided through against Jasmine Paolini of Italy 6-3, 6-3.
Second seed Karolina Pliskova faces what could be a rollercoaster battle against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
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Pushed unexpectedly hard by Egyptian trailblazer Mayar Sherif in the first round, Karolina Pliskova could be in for another stern test as she takes on Jelena Ostapenko for a place in the last 32 at the French Open.
Ostapenko, the French Open champion in 2017, is the definition of inconsistent but a tremendous shotmaker who has given Pliskova much trouble in the past, including winning their most recent encounter.
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Pliskova vs Ostapenko: Head-to-head
Karolina Pliskova has a 3-2 record against Jelena Ostapenko, and won their only clay-court encounter in Stuttgart in 2018 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.
Ostapenko won their most recent encounter, defeating Pliskova 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in Beijing last autumn.
Pliskova vs Ostapenko: Preview
Karolina Pliskova’s US swing did not go to plan, as she suffered an early US Open defeat to Caroline Garcia, but an impressive run to the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where she was the defending champion, made her chances of a deep French Open run look much more positive – at least, until she had to pull out of the final against Simona Halep trailing 0-6, 1-2 due to a thigh injury.
Pliskova seemed optimistic about bouncing back for Roland Garros, but I’m not sure her first-round performance was terribly convincing. Egyptian qualifier Mayar Sherif, who had made history by becoming the first woman from her country to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam, handled the occasion really well and played some great tennis, but Pliskova didn’t look to me to be moving as well as she might in the 6-7(9), 6-2, 6-4 victory.
The Czech did, however, noticeably loosen up as the match went on, so perhaps it was just a case of needing to get the legs moving.
Pliskova made a semifinal run at the French Open in 2017 and made back-to-back third rounds in 2018-19, but before that she had failed to win consecutive matches in five previous main-draw appearances and she has yet to make the last 16 of a major this year.
Under these circumstances Jelena Ostapenko is not exactly the opponent she wants to face in the second round. The Latvian memorably stormed to the French Open title in 2017 despite being ranked world no. 47, and was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2018, but a game plagued by double faults and uncertainty over how best to approach matches tactically – should she go for broke on her shots, knowing she’s going to give up a lot of unforced errors and hit herself off the court a lot of the time but be unbeatable on her day, or should she try to learn how to add more margin? – saw her slump outside the top 80 in 2019.
Ostapenko turned things around at the end of last season by reaching consecutive finals in Linz and Luxembourg, winning the second, and is 6-6 in 2020, winning back-to-back matches in Doha in February and Strasbourg last week, where she made the quarterfinals (helped by a retirement from Kiki Bertens) before losing to Nao Hibino. She crushed Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-1 in the first round, and certainly has a history of challenging Pliskova – in their second career meeting at the Australian Open in 2017, Ostapenko led Pliskova 5-2 in the decider before, as she would herself say, choking and losing 8-10. The last two matches they have played have been tight, with five of six sets going past 4-4; Ostapenko certainly doesn’t find Pliskova’s game intimidating, but her own serve often lets her down, crumbling under pressure and seeing her double fault. I think this will be a lengthy battle.