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WTA Tour 2020: Premier Tour Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

Damien Kayat previews the selected Round of 32 matches with respective matchups between Jennifer Brady and 
Svetlana Kuznetsova as well as Alize Cornet and Jelena Ostapenko.

WTA Tour 2020 |  Sibur Arena, Dynamo Tennis Club (Indoor Hardcourt)
Selected Round of 32 Matches – 11, 12 February 2020

Jennifer Brady (11/20) 
Svetlana Kuznetsova (27/20)
Former World Number Three Svetlana Kuznetsova will be hoping to excite a fanatical home crowd. Kuznetsova has enjoyed an exceptional career, reaching four Grand Slam Finals. The two-time Aussie Open Champion is an 18 time WTA Champion who will just be happy to be back in the competition. She spent more than a year on the side-lines prior to her 2019 comeback. She must have flirted with the prospect of retirement: just look at Caroline Wozniacki’s recent move. But the courageous Russian has rolled up her sleeves to take one more shot at it. And although her 2019 results were largely muted, an appearance in the Cincinnati final showcased her ability to still compete in elite fields. Kuznetsova should be buoyed by the home support and will be keen to impress this week. 

Jennifer Brady is a four-time winner on the ITF Tour who has battled to find traction on the tour proper. She did make small steps in 2019, reaching the semi-final in Nottingham. She also won the Oracle Challenger Series Final at Indian Wells. So there were signs of improvement. She started the season in tremendous style, beating World Number One Ashleigh Barty in Brisbane. But she was brought back down to earth by Simon Halep in a one-sided first-round defeat at the Aussie Open. She shouldn’t be overawed by playing Kuznetsova in front of her home crowd, especially considering her performance against Barty in Brisbane.

This will be the first meeting between the two. There is a decade that separates the two, with Brady ten years the junior player. I think that Kuznetsova is the only option here, especially at that appealing price of 27/20. 

Alize Cornet (21/20) 
vs Jelena Ostapenko (7/10)
With the rise of so many talented players on the women’s tour last season, let’s spare a thought for one of the most dramatic downfalls in recent memory. Jelena Ostapenko burst onto the tennis landscape with that unbelievable victory in the 2017 French Open. Ostapenko had shown glimpses of talent before, reaching the final in Qatar in 2016. Then there was a period of relative consistency for the Latvian, with 2018 yielding both a Wimbledon semi-final and a Miami Open Final.  But 2019 saw her plummet down the world rankings. The mercurial player has always been associated with a high-risk style, prone to a high unforced error count. Her tendency to double fault crippled her and multiple coaching changes did little to help. But she did manage to squeak in a late-season surge, reaching the Final in Linz prior to capturing the title in Luxembourg. Now can the potentially explosive player finally found some consistent form? 

Alize Cornet will always be remembered as the woman who incurred a code violation at the 2018 US Open, revealing double standards in gender treatment for a harmless on-court shirt change. But the 30-year-old Frenchwoman has managed to compile a tidy career, reaching as high as number 11 in the singles rankings. She has won six titles, though her most consistent form has come on clay. She reached the semi-final in Hobart last season, showing a semblance of form on a harder surface. But she had to wait for the Ladies Lausanne Open to finally reach a final last year. It was quite a middling season in all honesty. But she has started 2020 in decent form, reaching the quarters in Auckland before a 2nd round defeat in Melbourne. Cornet is a durable competitor who will seize on any complacency. 

This will be the third meeting between these two.  They share the spoils at one win apiece, though it was Ostapenko who emerged victorious last season in Linz. I think Ostapenko is ready to rediscover some of the form that saw her claim that French Open Final. She is slightly older and may bring some more maturity to her game in 2020. She ended 2019 well and fully expect her to beat the older Cornet.  

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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