US Open first round preview: Petra Kvitova vs Jelena Jankovic

Two notable WTA names looking for form face off at the US Open, with a spot in the second round at stake.

US Open first round preview: Petra Kvitova vs Jelena Jankovic
Kvitova and Jankovic will face off for the eighth time on Monday (Getty Images)

The second day of round one action at the US Open sees two notable names on the WTA Tour, 13th seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and former world number one and US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic, face off for a spot in the second round.

Jankovic beat Kvitova in a thrilling contest at Wimbledon two years ago (Getty/Clive Brunskill)
Jankovic beat Kvitova in a thrilling contest at Wimbledon two years ago (Getty/Clive Brunskill)

The two have faced off several times before, with Kvitova leading the head to head 4-3. The Czech leads their head to head on hard courts 3-2, winning the last match on that surface in Doha in 2015, though it was Jankovic who won their last meeting, upsetting Kvitova in the third round of Wimbledon in 2015.

The winner of this clash will face either Heather Watson or Alize Cornet in the second round.

US Open build-up

Both women have, for various reasons, have had a difficult 2017, and that didn’t change for either woman heading into Flushing Meadows.

Kvitova started in Stanford, beating Kateryna Bondarenko before being crushed by Catherine Bellis. The Czech had a similar result in Toronto, beating Carla Suarez Navarro before falling to Sloane Stephens in a tight three set contest. The following week in Cincinnati she fell to Stephens in more convincing fashion, after beating Anett Kontaveit in her first match, before losing her first round match to Shuai Zhang in New Haven.

Kvitova celebrates her win over Anett Kontaveit in Cincinnati (Getty/Rob Carr)
Kvitova celebrates her win over Anett Kontaveit in Cincinnati (Getty/Rob Carr)

Meanwhile, Jankovic started in Nanchang, beating Jiaqi Kang in her opening match before falling to world number 272 Jing-Jing Lu in three sets. The Serbian was then forced to retire in her first round match in Washington against Oceane Dodin, and has not played since then, skipping both Toronto and Montreal; it will be interesting to see what physical shape she is in during the early stages of this match.

Analysis

One potential advantage for Kvitova is that she is by far the more powerful of the two, and she could use that to dictate play against the 2008 US Open runner-up, though her power can be a blessing and a curse; the 13th seed can sometimes go for too much with her shot making, and must remain patient and consistent against a counter-puncher like Jankovic. The Czech must also look to attack the Serbian’s forehand, as that is arguably the former world number one’s weakest shot.

Jankovic will look to use her backhand as much as possible (Getty/Harry How)
Jankovic will look to use her backhand as much as possible (Getty/Harry How)

Jankovic will not be able to match Kvitova in terms of power, so must look to defend well and try and frustrate the former Wimbledon into making several unforced errors. It is likely that she will also get some opportunities to be aggressive herself, and should look to attack on her backhand as often as she can. Serving will also be a key factor for the Serbian; she can have bad days in this area, and cannot afford to serve poorly against someone who is capable of easily taking control of points from the return.

Assessment

It is rather strange to see two well-known names face off in the first round, and it should prove to be a highly interesting first round clash. Kvitova is certainly not at her best and hasn’t played too many matches after missing the start of the year, but should have enough to see off Jankovic, who has had a torrid time on tour this year.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova in straight sets