(1) Simona Halep vs (6) Ekaterina Makarova
Simona Halep will be seeking revenge when she comes up against Ekaterina Makarova in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Makarova thumped Halep in the quarter-finals of last month's Australian Open. Simona Halep and Ekaterina Makarova have both cruised through to the quarter-finals in Dubai, both will face by far their biggest test on of the tournament on Thursday evening.
After receiving a bye into the second round, Simona Halep has dropped just 9 games in her opening two matches. The top seed kickstarted her Dubai campaign with a dominant 6-2 6-0 victory over a fatigued Daniela Hantuchova. In the second round Simona proved to be too strong for Tsvetana Pironkova, prevailing 6-4 6-3 to set up a rematch with Ekaterina Makarova.
With 5 of the top 8 seeds now eliminated from the tournament, Simona is now the favourite to go all the way and claim her second title of the season.
Ekaterina Makarova has continued her strong start to the season, swiftly moving through the draw in Dubai. After receiving a bye through to the second round, the Australian Open semifinalist has come through both her opening matches in straight sets.
Makarova kickstarted her Dubai campaign by confidently dispatching Ukrainian qualifier, Kateryna Kozlova 6-3 6-3. The Russian was then forced to work reasonably hard hard for her third round victory against Zarina Diyas, eventually triumphing 6-3 6-4.
The head to head record between these two is split at 1 win apiece. It was Makarova who came out on top in their quarter-final encounter at the Australian Open last month, a surprisingly dominant 6-4 6-0 victory. Simona was widely expected to win that match however the Romanian had an uncharacteristically bad day, going down without any real fight.
I expect to see a very different result in Dubai, Simona will be desperate to avenge her humiliating loss to Makarova in Melbourne and should be a class above her opponent in on this occasion. Simona does most things better than Makarova, if she continues her solid form she will win this match.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Ekaterina Makarova in 2 sets