Madrid R1: (2) Simona Halep vs Alize Cornet
2014 Mutua Madrid Open runner-up: Simona Halep will be looking to go one step further this year to claim her first major clay court title. Simona begins her 2015 campaign against the struggling Alize Cornet.
Simona Halep continues to grow in stature. The Romanian has barely put a foot wrong in 2015, already claiming three titles: Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells. Simona is a very competent clay courter, displaying some impressive tennis on route to the final in Madrid and Roland Garros last year.
Simona had a mixed week in Stuttgart, defeating Garbine Muguruza and Sara Errani before succumbing to Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals. At this stage in her career, Simona’s best chance to win a Grand Slam would have to be at Roland Garros. Simona came ever so close last year, only just falling to Maria Sharapova in an epic final. A deep run this week in Madrid will be the perfect preparation for Simona.
After a career best 2014 season, Alize Cornet has made a lackluster start to her 2015 campaign. Alize has a 10-9 win/loss record, reaching just one quarter-final. There is little reason to believe Alize can drastically turn her form around over the next few weeks.
Alize struggled on clay last year, winning just two matches and arrives in Madrid on the back of a disappointing early round exit in Prague. Alize would have hoped to get a few wins under her belt in Prague but succumbed to Denisa Allertova 6-3 5-7 2-6 in the second round.
Alize Cornet holds a 2-1 head to head advantage over Simona, courtesy of the Romanian retiring in their most recent encounter in Dubai last year. In their latest completed match, Simona prevailed 6-4 6-4 in Sofia back in 2013. This will be the first meeting between the pair on clay.
It’s hard to see this ending up as anything other than a straight sets victory to Simona Halep. Alize just doesn’t have the game to trouble Simona, especially on a clay court. Simona does just about everything better than Alize and should come through this match rather comfortably given the recent form of the pair.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Alize Cornet in 2 sets