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Preview: Jeļena Ostapenko vs. Aryna Sabalenka - prediction, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Italian Open quarter-final between Jelena Ostapenko and Aryna Sabalenka, including predictions, head-to-head and their tournament so far.

Jelena Ostapenko and Aryna Sabalenka do battle on Wednesday as the Italian Open in Rome continues with the quarter-final stage.

The players will be squaring off for just the third time, with one boasting a far superior record in comparison to their opponent.

Match preview

Aryna Sabalenka reacts at the Madrid Open on April 28, 2024© Reuters

Having only reached her first French Open semi-final in 2023, Sabalenka is still to perfect the clay even at a time when she sits in second place in the WTA Rankings.

Nevertheless, she enjoyed a terrific run in Madrid last time out, reaching the final with four three-set victories before losing a dramatic tie-break to world number one Iga Swiatek in the final.

However, the 26-year-old has been able to take the form into this tournament, battling to victories over Katie Volynets, Dayana Yastremska and Elina Svitolina respectively.

With six of her last eight clay-court matches having gone the distance, you have to wonder what Sabalenka has left in the tank to lift the trophy in Italy, yet she showed her qualities in beating Svitolina in a final-set tie-break in the last 16, saving three match points in the process.

The same can be said of Ostapenko who prevailed in similar circumstances versus Rebecca Sramkova, coming from a set adrift to take the match 7-3 in a tie-break.

In the previous round, the former French Open champion also required three sets to overcome Sara Sorribes Tormo, and she is considerably better rested from the previous tournament after her fourth-round exit in Madrid.

Both players feature in the top 10 of the WTA Race for 2024, but this is Ostapenko's first quarter-final since the start of February, when she won in Linz.

Tournament so far

Jelena Ostapenko:

Second round: Anastasia Potapova 6-4 6-2
Third round: Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4 5-7 6-1
Round of 16: Rebecca Sramkova 4-6 6-4 7-6 (3)

Aryna Sabalenka:

Second round: Katie Volynets 4-6 6-3 6-2
Third round: Dayana Yastremska 6-4 6-2
Round of 16: Elina Svitolina 4-6 6-1 7-6 (2)

Head To Head

Zhengzhou Open (2019) - second round: Sabalenka 6-1 6-2
Dubai Duty Free Championship (2023) - third round: Sabalenka 2-6 6-1 6-1

These two players have met on just the two previous occasions, with the matches in question taking place four years apart and in the early rounds.

Ostapenko was unseeded when they first squared off in Asia five years, with Sabalenka dropping just the three games as she completely dominated the Latvian.

More recently, though, the pair battled it out in Dubai, with Ostapenko making a mockery of the manner in which she lost in the previous meeting.

That said, Sabalenka came roaring back to win the contest for the loss of just two more games, an ominous domination ahead of this encounter.

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We say: Sabalenka to win in two sets

Ostapenko's greater success on the dirt means that there is every chance of a more competitive match here, particularly when you consider Sabalenka's recent workload.

However, although we expect the sets to be closer, a straight-sets win for Sabalenka, potentially with a tie-break, feels like the most likely outcome.

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