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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Jelena Ostapenko looks hot in Madrid

French Open champion will be tough to beat

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko
1 of 1

BT Sport 1 from midday Saturday

Jelena Ostapenko’s greatest achievement came on clay last year when she landed her maiden Grand Slam at Roland Garros and the improving Latvian can enjoy the ideal preparation for her title defence with victory in the Spanish capital.

At 20, Ostapenko is still pretty raw but she is extremely talented and her early efforts on the red dirt have shown she has nothing to fear when tackling the elite.

The Latvian was overhauled by the classy Karolina Pliskova in the last eight in Stuttgart last week but had been a set to the good and given that was her first tournament on the slower surface this year, there were plenty of positives.

Ostapenko’s efforts were enhanced when Pliskova went on to claim silverware in Stuttgart and that competitive showdown should have put her spot-on for a title tilt on the Madrid clay.

The hard-hitting youngster should have little trouble seeing off Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu in her opener and would be strongly fancied to overcome the fellow seeds in her quarter, Coco Vandeweghe and Caroline Wozniacki, who have plenty to prove on the slower surface.

Vandeweghe made the final in Stuttgart last week but that was a career-best effort on clay and she looks unlikely to follow up, particularly when accounting for a difficult curtain-raiser against last year’s beaten finalist Kristina Mladenovic.

Wozniacki is a class act but was forced to retire from her Istanbul quarter-final last week with an abdominal injury and is best watched for now.

Simon Halep has landed back-to-back titles in the Spanish capital but the top half of the draw is brimming with talent and Pliskova, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza are all lurking.

The bottom section, however, looks far weaker and a chance should be taken on Ostapenko to tee up her French Open defence with a positive showing in Madrid.

J Ostapenko
1pt each-way 14-1 bet365

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Wozniacki is a class act but was forced to retire from her Istanbul quarter-final last week with an abdominal injury
E.W. Terms
Sky bet