?? Australian Open, R3 preview + prediction:
?? (4) Simona Halep vs. ?? Yulia Putintseva
Simona Halep and Yulia Putintseva will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the third round stage of the Australian Open on Saturday. This promises to be an entertaining match-up between two great competitors and two of the quickest players on tour, expect a lot of long rallies in this one!
Simona Halep has done well to navigate her way through the first couple of rounds without dropping a set. Halep started her Melbourne Park campaign with a hard-fought 7/6 6/1 victory over an in-form Jennifer Brady before defeating Harriet Dart 6/2 6/4. Both of Halep’s matches have had their complications, the fourth seed twice fought from a break down in the opening set against Brady and almost blew a 5-1 lead in the second set against Dart. In general, Halep has looked good, now that the reigning Wimbledon champion has her teeth stuck into the tournament she will be hard to stop from here.
Yulia Putintseva has equaled her best result at Melbourne Park by reaching the third round, matching her run from 2016. The Kazakh has overcome a very tough draw to get to the round of 32. Putintseva started the event with a commanding 6/1 6/3 win over Su-Wei Hsieh before battling past an in-form Danielle Collins 6/4 2/6 7/5 in what was an epic contest. Putintseva did extremely well to withstand the barrage of shots fired at her from Collins, one of the better wins in Putintseva’s career on a hard court.
I’ll side with Halep in this one. It will be interesting to see how Putintseva matches up against Halep in their first career meeting but I expect this to be a good match-up for the Romanian. Putintseva’s greatest strengths are her movement and her versatility, unfortunately for Putintseva those strengths wont be as effective against Halep. Halep has the movement and stamina to match Putintseva from the back of the court and won’t be too troubled by slice, higher balls or drop shots. Importantly Halep has the superior firepower from the baseline, both off the forehand and backhand side, Halep also has a superior serve and more damaging return of serve. It won’t be easy for Halep, it never is against Putintseva but she should get the job done.