Playing Ostrava: Azarenka, Svitolina, Gauff

Who wants to go home and just practiceover the past two months? Many of the players have stopped playing WTA events. What exactly should they do rather that playing matches in real events. Watching the exhibitions, it could be OK, but it could be boring.

Victoria Azarenka

Many of the top 30 WTA women are dpme but at least some of the good players are at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open this week. They are not all of the fantastic players, but some good fine matches have been played.

How about Jelena Ostapenko, who is more confident over the past one year. She upended the No. 18 Petra Martic in two easy sets. And, then on Thursday, she lost to Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian aim for the corners with her forehand and her backhand, and she hits them down the line. On Tuesday, she was moving like a springer and she nailed it. On Thursday, she was inconsistent as Maria Sakkari dumped her 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. During the next year, Jabeur will be ready to beat anyone — if she focuses and adds more variety to her game. One way or another, whether she wins or loses, she is a force. As she says, “I played very smart and also used dropshots and mixed it up a little bit, which helped me, but in the deciding moments I was still very aggressive.” We will see.

It is so impossible to understand Elina Svitolina week after week. She plays great, and then has poor form. She has been there in the top 5, but to go up into the mountain tops, and raise your hands when you stand up into the sky, then she can smile. But she is faltering; she needs to more steady. She lost to Sakkari, who has been much more consistent. She could be ranked in the top 20 in December. That is pretty good — very good. She will face Vika Azarenka in the semis.

Elise Martens crushed Amanda Anisimova, but couldn’t handle Azarenka. Mertens’ strong defense couldn’t deal with the aggressive Belarussian.

This is not a great year from Karolina Pliskova, who lost to Veronika Kudermetova. Sure, the Russian Kudermetova is getting better,while the Czech, Pliskova, is under pressure to get better.

Kudermetova will face against American Jennifer Brady, who wants to play every week, to practice all the time. She displays higher quality when she isn’t so irked.

There was an exciting marathon when Aryna Sabalenka defeated Cori Gauff 1-6 7-5 7-6(2) as the American let the final set slip away. There were some terrific points. Both of them will stay for many years ahead. Gauff has to improve her second serves and the returns, too. Everything is progress.