30 other women have come and gone and just two remain at the WTA Linz Open in Austria. But will it be the 15-year-old wunderkind Cori Gauff or former-French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko who claims the title?
Linz Open Final Prediction
Cori Gauff vs Jelena Ostapenko
Head-to-head: first meeting
It’s been a week of firsts for the 15-year-old Cori Gauff. The American has managed to reach her maiden WTA final, a run that would be astonishing enough for such a young player, even if she were not only in the draw as a lucky loser after losing in the final round of qualifying to Tamara Korpatsch. The withdrawals of Anastasija Sevastova and Maria Sakkari granted her a reprieve after that defeat and Gauff has not been slow to take advantage.
After a strong start against Stefanie Voegele, Gauff benefitted from Kateryna Kozlova’s retirement early in the deciding set of their second-round clash. Many had then expected top seed Kiki Bertens, who won the Madrid Open in May, to end Gauff’s fairytale run at the Linz Open. But Gauff, who displayed remarkable composure throughout, scored the first top 10 win of her career, saving both of the break points she faced in a 7-6 6-4 win. And whilst her 6-4 6-4 win over Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals was tighter than the scoreline suggests, Gauff was a deserved victor having played the big points that much better than the German veteran.
Jelena Ostapenko, meanwhile, arrived at the Linz Open in the hope of ending a poor season on a high note. The Latvian had won consecutive matches just four times before this week and had failed to reach a single semifinal. But she announced in Linz that she had added Marion Bartoli to her coaching team. And although it is still too early to assess the effects of Bartoli’s addition, the signs so far have been extremely positive.
The Latvian didn’t lose a set in beating Tamara Korpatsch, Alize Cornet and Elena Rybakina to reach the semifinals, where she faced Ekaterina Alexandrova, last year’s runner-up. Alexandrova had much the better of the early going and looked to have seized a decisive advantage when she held a match point on her own serve up 6-1 6-5. But Ostapenko somehow found a way to stay alive and, despite facing two more match points in the decider, she ultimately prevailed 1-6 7-6 7-5.
Who will win?
Gauff has been proving pundits wrong all week. First she was expected to sail through the qualifying, then she was expected to fall to the top seed Kiki Bertens. Whilst she is evidently far from invincible, she has repeatedly shown a composure far beyond her years. But Ostapenko has generally been the underdog this week as well and will surely be full of confidence after her titanic win against Alexandrova.
The Latvian doesn’t allow her opponents to play their game and takes matters into her own hands with aggressive, first-strike tennis. The closest Gauff has come to playing such an opponent was in her one-sided loss to Naomi Osaka at the US Open. But Ostapenko is not as consistent as the Japanese star and facing an aggressive opponent may help Gauff in some respects. She will have not time to worry overly about her shot selection and will instead be able to react instinctively. She also has the better serve. If she comes out focused, she should be able to do what she does best – win.
Prediction: Gauff in 3
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