?? Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, SF Preview
?? (1) Simon Halep vs. ?? (Q) Jennifer Brady
Simona Halep continues her quest for a second Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title when she comes up against Jennifer Brady in Friday’s second semi-final. Halep and Brady have both come through some extremely tight matches to get through to the final 4 in Dubai, both have been forced to fight from a set down in their two previous matches. Halep defeated Brady earlier this year in Melbourne, can the Romanian repeat that result in Dubai?
Simona Halep is building into some top form in Dubai. Halep came through a big scare in her opening round match where she saved a match point in a dramatic final set tiebreak to defeat Ons Jabeur 1-6 6-2 7-6. Halep was again overpowered in the early exchanges of her quarter-final clash with Aryna Sabalenka but raised her level to claim an important 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory. Halep was striking the ball fantastically in the final set against Sabalenka, if she can continue that form she will win the title this week.
Jennifer Brady is into her first semi-final at a premier level event. Brady has done it the hard way having come through qualifying. Brady eased through the qualifying draw without dropping a set with wins over Kristyna Pliskova, Gabriela Dabrowski and Su-Wei Hsieh, before starting her main draw campaign with a 6-2 6-1 thrashing of the third seeded Elina Svitolina. Brady made a great escape in her second round match, coming from a set and 1-4 down to defeat Marketa Vondrousova. The American continued to ride her luck in the quarter-finals, where she against fought from behind to defeat Garbine Muguruza 6-7 6-3 6-4.
Halep has won both of her previous matches against Brady. Halep needed 3 tight sets to get past the American when they first squared off last year at the Rogers Cup, a 4-6 7-5 7-6 win for Halep on that occasion. More recently Halep claimed a 7-6 6-1 victory over Brady at the opening round stage of the Australian Open last month.
I’m going to confidently side with Halep here. Halep was able to beat Brady in straight sets at the Australian Open despite most factors favouring Brady heading into that match. On that occasion it was Brady who was in better form and had a better rhythm coming into the match. Halep still overcame a slow start in Melbourne to win that match. On this occasion, Halep has her rhythm having coming through some tough battles over the last few days. Conversely, Brady is surely going to be fatigued having already played 6 matches this week. Halep loves playing in Dubai where the courts suit her and the crowd loves her. Halep will make this a physical battle where she will be too strong.