Australian Open, R2 Preview
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? Sofia Kenin
Simona Halep navigated her way through a tough opening round match on Tuesday evening against Kaia Kanepi and faces another tough early round test on Thursday against America’s Sofia Kenin. Halep was forced to come from a set and a break down in her first round match and is likely to face another stern challenge against Kenin who arrived in Melbourne fresh off winning her first career singles title in Hobart.
Halep’s opening round match-up with Kanepi was always going to be a tough one. Kanepi defeated Halep at the opening round stage of the US Open last year and it seemed the same would happen in Melbourne when Kanepi led by a set and a break. However, the world number 1 dug deep and eventually broke the spirits of Kanepi midway through the third set to claim an important 6-7 6-4 6-2 victory. Halep showcased her improved mental strength and was increasingly aggressive in the important moments.
Sofia Kenin has made a very strong start to the season. Kenin won the doubles title in Auckland in week 1 before winning the singles title in Hobart the week after. Kenin was very impressive in Hobart, especially in the final where she dominated Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in her first career singles final on the WTA tour. Kenin also needed to dig deep to get through her opening round match in Melbourne, the American battled past Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 3-6 7-5 in what was her first main draw victory at the Australian Open.
This will be the first career meeting between Halep and Kenin. Can an in-form Kenin push the world number 1?