(3) Simona Halep vs (10) Ekaterina Makarova
Tuesday’s first quarter-final at Melbourne Park sees Simona Halep take on Ekaterina Makarova.
The draw has really opened up for both ladies this week, both have taken full advantage, neither has dropped a set this week on route to the quarter-finals.
Perhaps a maiden Grand Slam title is just around the corner for one of these two ladies?
Simona Halep reached her second consecutive quarter-final in Melbourne with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 victory over Yanina Wickmayer. Simona navigated her way through a tight opening set before running away with the match in the second, clearly a class above her opponent.
The Romanians pathway to the quarter-finals has been relatively easy: she is yet to face a seeded opponent, moreover she is yet to face an opponent ranked below 50.
Ekaterina Makarova has quietly made her way through the draw to reach the quarter-final stage at Melbourne Park for a third time.
Makarova also had a comfortable fourth round victory, defeating Julia Goerges 6-3 6-2. Makarova outplayed Goerges with consistent serving and greater variety off the ground.
These two have met on just one previous occasion. Simona Halep emerged victorious on that occasion, a 6-1 7-6 victory on route to her 2013 New Haven title.
This is a fascinating matchup, an extremely close match is to be expected. In my opinion Makarova has been the more impressive of the two thus far in Melbourne. Makarova’s straight set victory over the in form Karolina Pliskova was particularly noteworthy.
Although Simona is yet to drop a set this week, she has looked quite vulnerable on occasions. Most notably in her third round victory over Mattek-Sands. Simona blew a 5-1 lead in the second set, but somehow managed to pull through and take the set 7-5.
There is very little to separate these two, I’m leaning towards Makarova. I think she is playing better tennis at the moment and the conditions on Tuesday afternoon should suit the Russians game.
Prediction: Ekaterina Makarova to defeat Simona Halep in three sets