?? Australian Open, QF preview + prediction:
?? (4) Simona Halep vs. ?? (28) Anett Kontaveit
Simona Halep and Anett Kontaveit will renew hostilities with a place in the final 4 at Melbourne Park up for grabs. It is Halep who heads into this clash as a strong favourite, the Romanian has dominated in this match-up in the past and is in ominous form having reached the quarter-final stage without dropping a set. Kontaveit is faced with a massive task playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Halep made a slow start to the season but is seemingly peaking at the right time. The fourth seed battled through her first couple of matches in Melbourne, starting with a 7/6 6/1 win over Jennifer Brady before beating Harriet Dart 6/2 6/4. The Romanian certainly raised her level in third and fourth rounds where she smashed Yulia Putintseva 6/1 6/4 and blitzed Elise Mertens 6/4 6/4. The fairly slow hard courts at Melbourne Park this year are working in the favour of the rock-solid Halep.
Kontaveit has surprisingly had the best tournament of her career. The Estonian is through to the final 8 of a major for the first time thanks to some contrasting performances. Kontaveit breezed through the opening round with a 6/0 6/2 win over Astra Sharma before scrapping past Sara Sorribes Tormo 6/2 4/6 6/1. The 28th seed produced her best performance of the tournament thus far in third round where she claimed a commanding 6/0 6/1 win over the 6th seeded Belinda Bencic. Kontaveit battled from behind to clinch a spot in the final 8, fighting from a set and a break down to defeat Iga Swiatek 6/7 7/5 7/5.
Simona Halep holds a perfect 2-0 head-to-head record over Anett Kontaveit. Halep easily defeated Kontaveit on both occasions, both in 2017, a 6/3 6/0 victory in Miami followed by a 6/2 6/4 victory in Rome. It will take a special effort on Wednesday from Kontaveit to avoid a similarly one-sided result.
I have to side with Halep here. All signs point to a Halep victory. Firstly, this Is a good match-up for Halep. The Romanian easily won the only previous matches between the pair, the consistency and defensive skills of Halep are too much for Kontaveit to deal with. Secondly, the slow court favours Halep. Kontaveit doesn’t have the consistency or stamina to outlast Halep in rallies over and over again so the Estonian will need to play an aggressive game and hit through the Romanian to win, that is not going to happen on a slow hard court with Halep playing so well at the moment. Expect Halep to be too solid.