Daniel Island  Charleston, SC
COUNTDOWN
TO THE OPEN
On Court Action

Ready for a Sunday Showdown
By: Joel Drucker

Singles Final – 1:00 p.m., Volvo Car Stadium
Daria Kasatkina vs. Jelena Ostapenko
- Ostapenko leads 1-0 (Eastbourne ’16 1st rd. 46, 62, 63)

Finals matchups assume many flavors.  Some pit longstanding rivals.  Others involve veterans or surprise contenders, each hungry to grab a big title.  And then there are those between two potential stars – the kind of match that years later, you want to say you saw before either player made even bigger statements at the majors. 

The latter could well be the case today at the Volvo Car Open.  It’s a final round battle between two ascending 19-year-olds, 42nd-ranked Daria Kasatkina of Russia and, from Latvia, 66th-ranked Jelena Ostapenko.  And the stakes are quite high, as for each, it’s the chance to earn her first WTA singles title.

Spicing up the matchup is that each plays quite differently.  Kasatkina has a quiet quality to her game.  She sees the court with a savant-like wisdom, demonstrated by an aptitude for mixing up speed, spin, height and depth.  “Finally I made the final,” said Kasatkina yesterday.  “So we will see.” 

While Kastakina is a versatile counterpuncher, Ostapenko is as subtle as a punch in the mouth – and this week, those punches have connected magnificently.  In her Friday night quarterfinal win over 2011 Volvo Car Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, Ostapenko hit 40 winners.  Most impressive about Ostapenko is her willingness to strike big to all corners of the court, be it a crosscourt laser or a bold down-the-line winner. 

Growing up, Ostapenko admired Serena Williams.  But she also noted that, “the way I started to play tennis, it was like not that I was following someone.  I just liked to hit the ball hard....  So now I’m just working on my consistency.”  

So the stage is set – two teens of contrasting styles, each out to capture that precious first single title. 

Only once since this tournament moved from Hilton Head to Charleston in 2001 has a teenager won it (Sabine Lisicki in ’09).  A second is now guaranteed.  Beyond that, who can say?

 

Doubles Final – 10:30 a.m., Volvo Car Stadium
Safarova-Mattek-Sands vs. Hradecka-Siniakov

The number one-seeded team of Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands have all the ingredients of a dynamic duo – a lefty-righty combo, a wide range of all-court skills, superb movement and a deep friendship.  Winners earlier this year at the Australian Open, today Safarova and Mattek-Sands seek their second title of 2017.  Their opponents – a pair of Czechs who last month reached the finals at Indian Wells, the fourth-seeded team of Katerina Siniakova and a veteran doubles stalwart, Lucie Hradecka.  

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