Simona Halep vs. Elise Mertens, Australian Open R4 Preview

🇦🇺 Australian Open, R4 preview + prediction:
🇷🇴 (4) Simona Halep vs. 🇧🇪 (16) Elise Mertens

Simona Halep and Elise Mertens renew hostilities when they do battle at the fourth round stage at Melbourne Park on Monday. Halep is one of the favourites heading into the second week of the tournament but will be wary of her Belgian opponent given it was Mertens who emerged victorious in their most recent meeting.

Simona Halep moved through the first week in Melbourne without dropping a set. Halep’s first few matches had their complications, a 7/6 6/1 win over Jennifer Brady followed by a 6/2 6/4 win over Harriet Dart. Halep produced her most convincing performance in the third round where she smashed Yulia Putintseva 6/1 6/4. The reigning Wimbledon champion is seemingly in a good place right now and will be tough to beat from here.

Elise Mertens cruised through her first couple of matches at Melbourne Park. The 16th seed dropped just a combined 5 games through a 6/2 6/0 win over Danka Kovinic and a 6/3 6/0 win over Heather Watson. Mertens faced her biggest test in the third round where she required a roller-coaster 3 set match to get the better of Catherine Bellis, a 6/1 6/7 6/0 victory.

Halep holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Mertens. It was Halep that won the first couple of matches between the pair, both straight set victories where the Romanian dropped just 3 games in each match. Mertens flipped the script in their most recent match, a 3/6 6/4 6/3 victory in the Doha final last year.

I’m going to side with Halep here. I think this is generally a good match-up for Halep. Halep crushed Mertens in their first few matches; it took an inspired performance by Mertens to defeat Halep in Doha. Mertens needs to play at her very best, over a long period of the match to have success in this match-up. Halep isn’t going to give the match away, Mertens needs to be able to hit through Halep, that will not be easy on a fairly slow hard court. Halep has more margin to her shots which gives her the edge in a match-up that will feature a lot of extended rallies given the movement and defensive abilities of both.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Elise Mertens in 2 sets
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Simona Halep vs. Yulia Putintseva, Australian Open R3 Preview

🇦🇺 Australian Open, R3 preview + prediction:
🇷🇴 (4) Simona Halep vs. 🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva

Simona Halep and Yulia Putintseva will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the third round stage of the Australian Open on Saturday. This promises to be an entertaining match-up between two great competitors and two of the quickest players on tour, expect a lot of long rallies in this one!

Simona Halep has done well to navigate her way through the first couple of rounds without dropping a set. Halep started her Melbourne Park campaign with a hard-fought 7/6 6/1 victory over an in-form Jennifer Brady before defeating Harriet Dart 6/2 6/4. Both of Halep’s matches have had their complications, the fourth seed twice fought from a break down in the opening set against Brady and almost blew a 5-1 lead in the second set against Dart. In general, Halep has looked good, now that the reigning Wimbledon champion has her teeth stuck into the tournament she will be hard to stop from here.

Yulia Putintseva has equaled her best result at Melbourne Park by reaching the third round, matching her run from 2016. The Kazakh has overcome a very tough draw to get to the round of 32. Putintseva started the event with a commanding 6/1 6/3 win over Su-Wei Hsieh before battling past an in-form Danielle Collins 6/4 2/6 7/5 in what was an epic contest. Putintseva did extremely well to withstand the barrage of shots fired at her from Collins, one of the better wins in Putintseva’s career on a hard court.

I’ll side with Halep in this one. It will be interesting to see how Putintseva matches up against Halep in their first career meeting but I expect this to be a good match-up for the Romanian. Putintseva’s greatest strengths are her movement and her versatility, unfortunately for Putintseva those strengths wont be as effective against Halep. Halep has the movement and stamina to match Putintseva from the back of the court and won’t be too troubled by slice, higher balls or drop shots. Importantly Halep has the superior firepower from the baseline, both off the forehand and backhand side, Halep also has a superior serve and more damaging return of serve. It won’t be easy for Halep, it never is against Putintseva but she should get the job done.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Yulia Putintseva in 2 sets
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Simona Halep vs. Jennifer Brady, Australian Open R1 Preview

AO R1: (4) Simona Halep vs. Jennifer Brady

Simona Halep begins her 2020 Australian Open campaign on day 2 against in-form American Jennifer Brady. It is Brady who brings the greater momentum into this opening round clash, Halep is certainly on upset alert. However, the Romanian is still one of the major contenders heading into this event and will be keen to make a statement in this first round encounter.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during the second round at the 2020 Adelaide International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Halep arrives at Melbourne Park with a big question mark surrounding her current form. Halep holds a mediocre 8-8 win/loss record ever since winning her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year. The world number 4 is short on match practise having competed in just 1 event prior to the first major of the year. Halep was in Adelaide last week where she defeated Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets before being smashed by Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets at the quarter-final stage. Halep has had mixed fortunes in Melbourne in the past, in recent times she has played her way into the tournament nicely with a runner-up finish in 2018 and a fourth round appearance last year where she lost to Serena Williams in an epic.

Jennifer Brady tends to play her best tennis in Australia. Brady stormed through qualifying draw to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park in 2017 and arrives in Melbourne on the back of a similar run to start her 2020 season. Brady came through 3 qualifying matches before upsetting Maria Sharapova and Ash Barty to reach the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International where she was ultimately defeated by Petra Kvitova in straight sets. That run in Brisbane a few weeks ago will surely give Brady confidence coming up against one of the best players in the world, especially her win over the world number 1, as will her previous match with Halep where she almost got the win.  

Halep was pushed to her limits in the only previous clash between the pair, a 4-6 7-5 7-6 victory for the Romanian at the Rogers Cup last year.

I’m going to give Halep the benefit of the doubt here. Halep has by her own admission had a fantastic off-season and is heading into the first major of the year fresh and without too much pressure on her shoulders. Despite the close meeting between the pair in their previous match I think this is generally a good match-up for Halep. Halep was playing in her first match since the Wimbledon final when she laboured past Brady last year, if she can do it in those circumstances, she can do it here. Halep has the clear edge when the pair get into a neutral baseline exchange, Halep has stronger, more consistent groundstrokes off both sides. The courts in Melbourne are fairly gritty which will further aid Halep as she will be able to get into more rallies. If Halep can serve well, get a decent read on the Brady serve then she will win this match and win it well.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Jennifer Brady in 2 sets

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Simona Halep, Shenzhen RR Preview

🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
🇨🇿 (2) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇷🇴 (5) Simona Halep

The fourth and final semi-final spot will be up for grabs at the WTA Finals Shenzhen on Friday evening as Karolina Pliskova takes on Simona Halep in the final match from the red group. The scenario is simple, the winner will finish second in the group and reach the final 4, the loser is out. It is Halep who heads into this match as the favourite given this has generally been a favourable match-up for the reigning Wimbledon champion who holds a 7-3 record over Pliskova.

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Karolina Pliskova hasn’t been too impressive thus far in Shenzhen but thanks to some good fortune she can still turn things around. Pliskova was beaten by Elina Svitolina in straight sets in her opening match before defeating Bianca Andreescu via retirement to keep her hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive.

Simona Halep has played decent tennis this week in Shenzhen, especially given her fairly limited preparation. Halep started the event with an epic 3-6 7-6 6-3 win over Bianca Andreescu from set point down in the second set. Halep couldn’t get the job done in her second match where she fell to Elina Svitolina in a tight straight set match. Despite losing to Svitolina, Halep wasn’t disgraced, Svitolina is simply the best player in the field at the moment.

Halep may hold a dominant 7-3 record over Pliskova but it is Pliskova who has won 2 of their last 3 meetings. The most recent match between the pair took place in Miami earlier this year, it was Pliskova who won 7-5 6-1. This will surprisingly be the first meeting between the pair at the WTA Finals despite both regularly featuring in the event over the last 6 years.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Halep has such a favourable record over Pliskova for a reason. This is a bad match-up for Pliskova, Halep is able to read and neutralize the Pliskova serve better than anyone, once Halep gets into a baseline battle with Pliskova she is a huge favourite. The slow, lifeless court in Shenzhen will significantly favour Halep in this match-up as she will be able to get into more baseline rallies where she can expose the weaknesses in the Pliskova game.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 2 sets

Simona Halep vs. Elina Svitolina, Shenzhen RR Preview

🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
🇷🇴 (5) Simona Halep vs. 🇺🇦 (8) Elina Svitolina

Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina will reignite their rivalry when they do battle in the opening singles match on Wednesday at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Halep and Svitolina both claimed hard-fought victories to kick-start their Shenzhen campaigns and will head into this match full of confidence. The winner of this match will be the first from the purple group to secure a spot in the semi-finals, who will it be?

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Simona Halep claimed a memorable 3-6 7-6 6-3 victory over Bianca Andreescu to begin her 6th consecutive appearance at the WTA Finals. Halep fended off match point late in the second set before running away with the match in the decider thanks to her superior toughness and stamina. It will be interesting to see how Halep recovers in time for her match with Svitolina, a match that will probably be even tougher for the reigning Wimbledon champion.

Elina Svitolina made a positive start to her title defense at the WTA Finals. The Ukrainian claimed a typically gutsy 7-6 6-4 win over Karolina Pliskova. Svitolina’s trademark toughness was on display as she edged past the big-hitting Pliskova 14-12 in the opening set tiebreak, finally converting on seventh set point before sneaking through in the tight second set. Svitolina has now won an impressive 6 consecutive matches at this event and will fancy her chances of extending that streak to 7 victories against Halep.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 4 wins apiece, this is indeed one of the most even match-ups on tour with both players possessing similar strengths and vulnerabilities. Halep has won the last couple of matches between the pair, both in 2019. Most recently Halep won 6-1 6-3 in the final 4 at Wimbledon.

This is of course a very difficult match to predict. I will give the slight edge to Svitolina. The defending champion is probably favoured by the slow, low bouncing hard courts in this match-up. This will be a total grind and that favours Svitolina. Svitolina looked sharp in her opening win over Pliskova whilst Halep was admittedly exhausted after a very tough win over Andreescu. It feels like Svitolina is in slightly better shape heading into this match as well as being slightly favoured by the conditions.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Simona Halep in 3 sets

Bianca Andreescu vs. Simona Halep, Shenzhen RR Preview

🇨🇳👑🐲 WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
🇨🇦 (4) Bianca Andreescu vs. 🇷🇴 (5) Simona Halep

A blockbuster match-up on Monday from the WTA Finals Shenzhen sees Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep go head-to-head for the very first time. This is an extremely exciting match-up for many, one that has been eager anticipated for a while. It will be interesting to see how the much-hyped game of Andreescu stakes up against the mighty Simona Halep.

Bianca Andreescu is the youngest and least experienced player in the draw but heads into the tournament as the favourite according to most experts. Andreescu has taken the tennis world by storm in 2019, the Canadian was recently on a stunning streak of 27 consecutive victories in completed matches, that streak was snapped in her most recent match when she was defeated by Naomi Osaka in the Beijing quarter-finals. It will be interesting to see how Andreescu performs over the next week, this is unprecedented territory for her.

Bianca Andreescu of Canada practices ahead of the 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Simona Halep will be competing in the WTA Finals for the 6th consecutive season, the longest active streak of anyone on tour, a real credit to the Romanian’s consistency and toughness. However, of all the players in the draw it is Halep who probably brings the weakest form into the event. Halep hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the Rogers Cup having failed to win back-to-back matches in her last 4 events. Nevertheless, the reigning Wimbledon champion is experienced enough to flick the switch for the final tournament of the year,

I’m going to side with Halep here. This feels like a match-up where Halep has a point to prove and unlike most players on tour, I don’t think Halep will be severely troubled by the versatility of Andreescu from the baseline. Andreescu doesn’t have the outright power to totally overpower Halep so the Romanian will get herself into extended rallies where she is likely to have the edge in this match-up. A disciplined Halep can expose Andreescu physically.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Bianca Andreescu in 3 sets

Simona Halep vs. Su-Wei Hsieh, Eastbourne R2 Preview

Nature Valley International, Eastbourne R2
🇷🇴 (6) Simona Halep vs. 🇹🇼 Su-Wei Hsieh

Simona Halep begins her 2019 grass court campaign with a tricky second round match-up against Su-Wei Hsieh at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne. The last time the pair met it was Hsieh who shocked Halep with a tough 3 set victory at the third round stage of Wimbledon last year. An in-form Hsieh will fancy her chances again here against a potentially rusty opponent.

Simona Halep will be back in action for the first time since her disappointing quarter-final loss to Amanda Anisimova at Roland Garros earlier this month. Grass has always been Halep’s least preferred surface but she has gradually improved on the surface over the years. Halep enters the 2019 grass court season with low expectation and little pressure on her shoulders, perhaps the perfect circumstances for the Romanian.

Su-Wei Hsieh arrives in Eastbourne fresh from winning the doubles title in Birmingham alongside Barbora Strycova. Hsieh won the doubles final in Birmingham on Sunday and was back in action on Monday in Eastbourne where she claimed a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi in what was a very high quality match.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Halep required 3 sets to get past Hsieh in Cincinnati in 2013, whilst more recently Hsieh defeated Halep 3-6 6-4 7-5 at Wimbledon last year. Clearly this is a tough match-up for Halep, especially on grass.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Simona Halep vs. Amanda Anisimova, Roland Garros QF Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, QF Preview
🇷🇴 (3) Simona Halep vs. 🇺🇸 Amanda Anisimova

Simona Halep continues her Roland Garros title defense on Wednesday with a quarter-final clash against America’s Amanda Anisimova. The gulf in experience between Halep and Anisimova is huge heading into this clash. Halep has reached the final in Paris on 3 previous occasions and of course won the title last year, whilst Anisimova entered this tournament having never won a main draw match at Roland Garros, this is the American’s second main draw appearance at the event. Thus it is Halep who enters this match as a huge favourite.

Amanda Anisimova of the United States in action during her fourth-round match at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

This was always going to be an interesting tournament for Simona Halep, the first time she has entered a Grand Slam as a defending champion. So far so good for the Romanian. Halep started the event with a couple of hard-fought 3 set wins over Ajla Tomljanovic and Magda Linette before cruising past Lesia Tsurenko and Iga Swiatek in straight sets. Halep’s tough start to the event may well have been just what the former world number 1 needed, she has been tested and is now seemingly getting stronger and stronger.

At 17 years of age Amanda Anisimova is the first player born in this millennium to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final. Anisimova has made her way through to the final 8 in style without dropping a single set. Anisimova’s biggest win of the event was in the second round where she defeated the 11th seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-2. The American also claimed wins over Harmony Tan and Irina-Camelia Begu in the first week. Anisimova booked her spot in a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with a powerful 6-3 6-0 win over Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov. This has been another impressive run by the American who also reached also the round of 16 earlier this year at the Australian Open.

This will be the first career meeting between Halep and Anisimova. This match looms as the American’s biggest test of the tournament, perhaps even her entire career, how will Anisimova handle the occasion?

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Simona Halep vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Roland Garros R1 Preview

🇫🇷🥖💶 Roland Garros, R1 Preview
🇷🇴 (3) Simona Halep vs. 🇦🇺 Ajla Tomljanovic

Simona Halep begins her title defense in Paris with a tricky opening round match-up against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. Halep finally broke through to claim her first major title in Paris 12 months ago in what was her fourth Grand Slam final. It will be interesting to see how Halep handles herself as the defending champion at a major for the first time, a task others have found difficult in recent times.

Simona Halep of Romania during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Simona Halep enters the second Grand Slam of the year as the outright favourite but there are several questions marks surrounding the Romanian’s campaign. Halep has been the most consistent performer in Paris over the last few years, Halep has reached the final in 3 of the last 5 years at Roland Garros, clearly this is her most successful major tournament. However, Halep does arrive in Paris on the back of a surprise opening round loss to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome where she received treatment on court. Furthermore, we will have to wait and see how Halep deals with the pressure of being the defending champion, a feeling she has not experienced at a Grand Slam.

Ajla Tomljanovic has performed well enough in 2019, consistently playing good tennis but is in need of a big breakthrough run at a major. Tomljanovic arrives in Paris fresh from a second round exit in Nuremburg where she was upset by Tamara Zidansek in straight sets. Tomljanovic has competed in a lot tournaments during the clay swing, her best result was a semi-final showing in Rabat. Unlike Halep, Tomljanovic is very much match-hardened for this first round clash.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in Cincinnati last year, Halep won that match 4-6 6-3 6-3. Halep can expect another tough battle here, Tomljanovic is unlikely to be a pushover and will even fancy her chances of a claiming a big upset win, can the Aussie pull off an early surprise?

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Simona Halep vs. Karolina Pliskova, Miami SF Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, SF #2 Preview
🇷🇴 (2) Simona Halep vs. 🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will renew hostilities when they do battle on Thursday evening with a spot in the Miami Open final up for grabs. Halep and Pliskova are familiar foes, this will be the 10th career meeting between the two former world number 1’s. Halep has been fairly dominant in this match-up in recent times and looks set to continue that dominance in Miami.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Simona Halep is just 1 victory away from recapturing the world number 1 ranking and reaching her first Miami final. Halep’s form has generally been good over the last few months, the only thing missing is a title, that should change over the next few days. Halep started her Miami campaign with a commanding straight set win over Taylor Townsend before battling past Polona Hercog 6-7 7-6 6-2 in what was her biggest test of the event so far. Halep booked her spot in the final 4 with straight set wins over Venus Williams and Qiang Wang.

Karolina Pliskova is through to yet another Miami semi-final. Pliskova hasn’t always done things the easy way on route to the final 4. Pliskova started the event with a fairly comfortable straight set win over Petra Martic before coming from a set down to defeat Alize Cornet and Yulia Putintseva. Pliskova produced a far more consistent performance to secure her semi-final spot as she defeated Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 6-4.

Halep holds a 7-2 head-to-head record over Pliskova. Halep has won 4 of the last 5 matches between the pair including a 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory in their most recent match during a Fed Cup tie earlier this year. Halep holds an overall 6-1 record over Pliskova on hard courts.

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