Third seed Jelena Ostapenko faces of against Jule Niemier while Ekaterina Alexandrova and Clara Tauson go head to head in the round of 32 at the Luxembourg Open.
WTA Tour 2021
Kockelscheuer Sport Centre
Selected of 32 and 16 Matches- 14th and 15th September
Round of 32 Match- 14th September
Jelena Ostapenko 48/100 | Jule Niemeier 16/10
This is a stat that tells you everything you need to know about the gloriously enigmatic Jelena Ostapenko. Her victory at Eastbourne earlier this year was her 4th WTA title. All four of those victories have come as a wildcard! That’s insane. Ostapenko’s ‘see ball, hit ball’ approach is all about risk-reward. Sure, she may lose five consecutive opening-round matches. But everything will click into gear for that one week in the year. Her approach is certainly a more profitable venture than middling mediocrity. But it does make her a risk to back. The former French Open champion will be defending her 2019 Luxembourg title this week: the 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic. She curiously chose to skip the US Open following a fairly decent showing in Cincinnati (she lost in the round of 16 to a resurgent Angelique Kerber).
Jule Niemeier will be hoping to run into the Mrs Hyde version of Ostapenko this week. Having said that, the 22-year-old German is actually enjoying her best season thus far: she has actually climbed 130 ranking spots this year. She has reached semi-finals in Hamburg and Strasbourg. Those two semi-finals did come on her favoured clay courts. She hasn’t exactly been in the greatest recent form. She failed to clear the qualifying hurdles at the US Open. This week she has already seen off two fellow qualifiers and she will be feeling match-ready. This could work to her advantage against a potentially undercooked Ostapenko (Ostapenko hasn’t played since the 19th of August). She is full of energy and will look to absorb all of Ostapenko’s biggest baseline blows.
Ostapenko in three at 32/10
This will be the first meeting between these two. Obviously, A-game Ostapenko should be able to see off the up-and-coming Niemeier. But how often do you get the A-game Ostapenko? 30% of the time? There’s enough value here to back Niemeier. But I ultimately think that Ostapenko should prevail in three sets at 32/10.
Round of 16 Match- 15th September
Ekaterina Alexandrova 31/20 | Clara Tauson 5/10
Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova is in desperate need of a strong week. The 4th seed started the year in excellent fashion, reaching the semi-finals of the Gippsland Trophy prior to a creditable 3rd round run at the Aussie Open. Since then, she has been more inconsistent, reaching four quarterfinals without progressing to the final four. Her recent form has been worse. She came into this event with form figures that read 3-5. She won a topsy-turvy opening encounter against the unpredictable Stefanie Voegele. It further cemented my belief that Alexandrova is a soft 4th seed. Voegele is a clay-court specialist who had only won one tour-level hardcourt match this entire season. The Russian should have rinsed her. Having said all that, she has picked up victories over the likes of Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic this year. Ekaterina Alexandrova will need every ounce of character to take down the ebullient Clara Tauson.
18-year-old Swiss sensation Clara Tauson is one of the most exciting young prospects in women’s tennis. It’s amazing to think how healthy the women’s game is in the wake of that Radacanu-Fernandez US Open final. Tauson will essentially be freerolling till the end of the season after capturing her maiden title earlier this year. That victory came on the hardcourts in Lyon. I think it’s also interesting to note that Tauson was the last person to beat reigning US Open champion Emma Radacanu (she beat the Brit in the final of the WTA 125 in Chicago just ahead of the US Open). Tauson looks primed for an extended period near the top of the women’s game.
Verdict: Tauson to win at 5/10
Tauson won their only encounter earlier this year in Lyon en route to her maiden title. It was an emphatic straight-sets victory that augers well for the Swiss. You can’t dismiss the Russian with her ability to take down big-name opposition. But she is currently at a slight downturn and Tauson is a fierce competitor. I would like to back Tauson in straight sets but I’m going to just opt for the straight Tauson win.