Elena Vesnina expects Jelena Ostapenko to bounce back after poor run continues at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
Latvian world No 6 has won just three matches this season, with the latest defeat coming at the hands of her Russian opponent in Dubai.
Elena Vesnina has backed French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to rediscover her best form after defeating her at the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, while revealing how she has also tried to help the Latvian improve her behaviour on the tennis circuit.
The Russian took advantage of an error-prone display by the world No 6 to win 6-1, 7-6 on Wednesday and reach the quarter-finals.
Defeat for Ostapenko was the latest setback in a dismal 2018 so far. She has won only three of her nine matches this year on the WTA Tour and she put in another erratic display as she was broken five times and made a number of unforced errors.
But Vesnina, the world No 23, believes Ostapenko can regain her confidence and get herself back on form in time for her defence of her French Open title at Roland Garros in May.
“She has the game,” Vesnina, 31, told reporters. “That's the most important. Maybe she has some problems with her game, with some psychology, mental part. She needs to, you know, get more mature, get her emotions right.
“But definitely she's a great player. We will see many, many matches of her in the future. She will win many tournaments in the future.”
While 2017 was successful for Ostapenko, 20, as winning the French Open helped her become a top 10 player, it was not all positive.
She came in for criticism on social media after offering a limp handshake to Daria Kasatkina when she was beaten by the Russian at the US Open in September.
Vesnina said Ostapenko’s attitude had been discussed by other players and she herself had addressed her concerns with her personally.
“Yeah, there is some talks in the locker room sometimes. In the beginning, she had some problems,” Vesnina said. “She was not shaking hands right, all these kind of things.
“I was straight with her. I was telling her right away in her face. She's actually answering me. I have a good contact with her. I'm going to tell it to her face. ‘You shouldn't say that, you shouldn't do that’.
“She actually sees that. She's kind of changing. I kind of mentor her. I know she's young and she has all this pressure around her right now. I think, my opinion, she's getting better.”
Vesnina was pleased with her performance. Having dominated the first set she was a break up in the second before Ostapenko fought back and forced a tie-break, which she won 8-6.
“Definitely was a very nerve-wracking match, especially at the end,” she said. “I was running side to side like a rabbit trying to get every single ball back to her.
“She's really a good baseliner. She's hitting quite strong and hard and deep. You have to stay during the rally, play as many balls as possible on the other side to try and move her around.”
Elsewhere, No 3 seed Karolina Pliskova was honest about why she had struggled to see off Carla Suarez Navarro before prevailing 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
“Because I was not playing well. That's why, I think, the 2015 runner-up said of her inconsistent display. “I think those are the important wins in the season, not when you play the best tennis. It's easy to win then.”
Pliskova goes up against in-form Angelique Kerber on Thursday for a place in the semi-finals.
Kerber defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-2 to achieve a second victory in less than 24 hours, having beaten Barbara Strycova on Tuesday evening.
“It's always a tough match," world No 9 Kerber said of facing Pliskova. "I know how she's playing. I know what to expect. I know that I have to play good tennis again. It will be completely different match than today.”
Updated: February 21, 2018 08:37 PM