BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells SF Preview
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? Naomi Osaka
A blockbuster semi-final from the BNP Paribas Open sees 2015 champion and current world number 1: Simona Halep come up against an in-form rising-star: Naomi Osaka. This match-up features and interesting contrast in styles, the outstanding movement and consistency of Halep against the explosive power of Osaka. Halep has had the better of this matchup in the past, the Romanian holds a 3-0 H2H record over Osaka. However, Osaka is playing the best tennis of her career right now and will fancy her chances of causing a big upset.
Simona Halep has now reached the semi-final stage at all 4 tournaments she has competed in this year. Halep has amassed an extremely impressive 18-1 win/loss record in 2018, a record that reflects her world number 1 ranking. Halep has had some tough matches on route to the semi-finals. The 2015 Champion started the event with a 6-4 6-4 win over Kristyna Pliskova before surviving a real scare to get past Caroline Dolehide 1-6 7-6 6-2. Halep started the second week with a 7-5 6-1 win over Qiang Wang before fighting from 1-3 down in the deciding set to beat Petra Martic 6-4 6-7 6-3 in a match that was played in tough conditions. When Halep dropped the second set and fell behind early in the third she looked frustrated and destined to lose, the Romanian displayed her improved mental toughness to regroup and win 5 straight games to close the match and move into the final 4.
Naomi Osaka is having the best tournament of her career, the 20-year-old is into her second and biggest semi-final of her career. Osaka has had the toughest draw of any player remaining in the draw. Osaka started the event with excellent straight set wins over Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sachia Vickery. Osaka was pushed to a third set in the fourth round, overcoming a stern challenge to beat Maria Sakkari 6-1 5-7 6-1. Osaka’s most impressive performance came at the quarter-final stage where she thrashed Karolina Pliskova 6-2 6-3. Osaka completely outplayed Pliskova from start to finish, Osaka was calm and calculated and executed the perfect game. Osaka has displayed consistency that we have not really previously seen from her over the last week and a half in Indian Wells.
Simona Halep has won all 3 of the previous matches between the pair. The pair last met earlier this at the Australian Open, Halep won 6-3 6-2 at the fourth round stage. Osaka made a promising start in that match but ultimately did not have the consistency to compete with Halep. Their other two matches went to a third set, a 6-4 2-6 6-3 win for Halep in Miami last year and a 4-6 6-2 6-3 win at Roland Garros in 2016.