Second seed Jelena Ostapenko will seek her first win over the wildcard Venus Williams on Thursday in the Birmingham Classic. The two will battle in the second round with the winner playing either eighth seed Sorana Cirstea or the qualifier Magdalena Frech. Venus Williams battled for more than three hours to defeat Camila Giorgi in three sets in the last round. This was her second win of the season in what was her fourth match. The veteran American has played very little tennis in the last three seasons. This season marks her 30th year of competing in the WTA Tour. Williams has defeated Ostapenko in both previous encounters between the two though the last time they met was six years ago. The former world number one is currently ranked 554th in the live ranking which is a 143 place leap.
Jelena Ostapenko is ranked more than 500 places above Williams in the WTA world rankings. She has however dropped two places to 19th in the live ranking after losing 250 ranking points. The Latvian can claw back those points if she wins the tournament. Ostapenko is making her fifth appearance in Birmingham and has twice made it through to the quarterfinals. She has however lost in this round in her last two editions. The 26-year-old arrives for this match having won 20 of the 32 matches she has played with one of those victories coming on grass. This was in the first round here where she also battled for three sets against Linda Noskova.
Our prediction for Venus Williams v Jelena Ostapenko is for Ostapenko to win in straight sets. Williams has the head-to-head advantage in this fixture which should have her confident of winning. Her prolonged absence from the court will however be a hindrance against Ostapenko.