Simona Halep vs. Garbine Muguruza, Rome SF Preview

??? Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome SF preview + prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? (9) Garbine Muguruza

Sunday’s first semi-final at the Foro Italico sees a pair of 2-time major champions go head-to-head as the top seeded Simona Halep takes on the 9th seeded Garbine Muguruza. Halep will be aiming to reach her third final in Rome as she seeks a third consecutive title and her first at the Foro Italico. Muguruza will be aiming to reach her first final in Rome as she seeks her first title since Monterrey early last year. This promises to be a quality clash between two players on top of their games, two of the best clay court performers on the WTA Tour.

Simona Halep has eased into a 5th semi-final in Rome without dropping a set. Halep claimed a 6-3 6-4 win over Jasmine Paolini to kick-start her campaign before defeating Dayana Yastremska 7-5 6-4. The reigning Wimbledon champion secured her spot in the final 4 when Yulia Putintseva retired down 2-6 0-2 in their quarter-final clash. Halep is now on a 12-match winning streak and holds an impressive 18-2 win/loss record in 2020, one of those losses came to Muguruza.

Garbine Muguruza has powered through a tough draw in Rome to reach the semi-final stage for the third time. The Spaniard started the week with a 6-3 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens before defeating Cori Gauff 7-6 3-6 6-3. Muguruza eliminated the 7th seeded Johanna Konta with a 6-4 6-1 triumph before fighting from a set and a break down to defeat a red-hot Victoria Azarenka 3-6 6-3 6-4. Muguruza has a 21-5 win/loss record in 2020.

Muguruza holds a 4-2 head-to-head record over Halep. All 4 of Muguruza’s victories came on a hard court, including a 7-6 7-5 victory at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open earlier this year in what was their most recent encounter. Their most recent match on a clay court took place at the semi-final stage of Roland Garros in 2018, Halep won 6-1 6-4.

I’m going to side with Halep here. Importantly it is Halep who has won both of the previous meetings between the pair on a clay court, including a comfortable win at Roland Garros a few years ago. Halep is able to deal with the Spaniard’s power much more efficiently on a clay court, she has more time and has a greater chance to pass Muguruza when she moves up the court in this surface. Halep is in great shape heading into this match having barely played any tennis this week, Muguruza has played some tough matches and couldn’t possibly be in peak condition. Expect Halep to be too strong.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Garbine Muguruza in 2 sets

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