Simona Halep vs Angelique Kerber, Australian Open SF Preview

Australian Open, ?? Semi-Final Preview
?? (1) Simona Halep vs ?? (21) Angelique Kerber

A blockbuster semi-final clash sees world number 1 Simona Halep take on 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. It can be argued that Halep and Kerber are the two best players in the world right now. Both have made outstanding starts to the seasons, both are unbeaten in 2018. Halep and Kerber were both extremely impressive in their respective quarter-final victories, Halep stormed past Karolina Pliskova whilst Kerber thrashed Madison Keys. Both will bring a heap of confidence into this match as they do battle for a spot in Saturday’s final at Melbourne Park.

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Simona Halep seems to be peaking at the right time of the tournament. It has been a dramatic week for Halep but the world number 1 seems to be in a good space heading into the semi-finals. Halep came through a couple of scares in the first week, in the opening round she rolled her ankle against Destanee Aiava whilst in the third round she defeated Lauren Davis 4-6 6-4 15-13 in an epic. Halep has gained a heap of momentum and confidence in her last couple of matches where she has beaten Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova in straight sets, both ended in 6-3 6-2 score lines. Halep’s demolition of Pliskova was particularly impressive, after quickly going down 0-3, Halep won 12 of the last 14 games in a dazzling display. Halep’s return of serve was the standout shot as was the Romanian’s ability to hit winner after winner down the line off both sides. Halep will face a very different opponent in the form of Kerber on Thursday.

Angelique Kerber enters the semi-final stage as the favourite to win the title. Kerber is the only one of the 4 remaining contenders to who have won a Grand Slam title. The German is in outstanding form, the type of form that saw her win multiple Grand Slam titles in 2016. Kerber has incredibly won 14 matches in a row to start the new year. In Melbourne Kerber waltzed through the opening week with straight set wins over Anna-Lena Friedsam, Donna Vekic and Maria Sharapova. Kerber faced her toughest test in the fourth round where she came from a set down to beat a red-hot Su-Wei Hsieh. Kerber confirmed her spot in the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Madison Keys. Kerber controlled the match from start to finish but will face a different task against a determined Simona Halep on Thursday.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 4 wins apiece. The German has won 4 of the last 5 matches between the pair, most recently a 6-3 6-4 win in Cincinnati in 2016 and a 6-4 6-2 at the WTA Finals Singapore a few months later.

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