I have watched bits and pieces here and there this past fortnight, but at times completely forgot there was a major tournament in progress. So much build up and hype goes into a wedding weekend but i’m happy to report it was wholly justified once that perfect day arrived.
Still, onto the matters in hand, and you’ll notice a couple of names mentioned in my predictions two weeks ago are here come the final hurdle.
It isn’t obvious at first, but the playing styles in both contests draw a lot of similarities.
Jelena Ostapenko vs Simona Halep
The first Latvian to reach the final of a Grand Slam (and the first to reach a SF before that), the 20 year-old Jelena Ostapenko is of course the surprise package here.
But delve a little deeper into the stats and things make more sense.
A former Wimbledon Juniors champion, (in 2014) Ostapenko is no stranger to a big stage arena, and with wins last year over the likes of Kvitova, Mladenovic, Puig and Keyes – not to mention her seed-killing antics here – and she clearly has the game and the temperament.
Finally before this fortnight – after which it will truly soar whatever happens today, her highest ranking is the current 33, so just outside the seeded positions.
Her do-or-die gameplan is typical of this demographic, but rarely can it be sustained so successfully over a major tournament.
Simona Halep may well be the favourite – and I will be rooting for the Romanian myself – but such has been the devastation from Ostapenko’s racquet then this is very tough to call.
For all her defensive heroics and masterful angles produced at will, I fear Halep will be rather puffed out and will wilt again in what is her best chance of a deserved maiden slam.
Heart says – Halep in two
Head says – ??? Ostapenko in three
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Rafael Nadal
Again, we see a clash of aggression vs defence, but in Nadal of course we have a maestro who can flit between the two on this surface with dominant ease.
If any question marks still lingered during the hard-court season, come the dirt and Rafa is well and truly back to his best. How long that will last is anyone’s guess, but this fortnight matters more than any other to the potential ten-time champ.
Can the Stanimal stop the Rafa rampage? The chance is always there as the Swiss is capable of playing inhuman stuff in a major final. But on two of those three occasions it has been Djokovic who has succumbed.
True, Djokovic in his prime, but Nadal at Roland Garros is a unique proposition and more formidable than any other combination except perhaps for Sampras at Wimbledon.
It all hinges on which Stan turns up, and even then he will have to play possibly beyond the level he showed in his three major titles to date – a big ask.
Heart says – Wawrinka in five
Head says – Nadal in four