Fed Cup WG1 R1: Simona Halep vs Petra Kvitova
A blockbuster clash on Sunday in Cluj-Napoca sees Simona Halep come up against Petra Kvitova. The World Group 1 tie between Romania and the Czech Republic is level at 1 win apiece heading into this crucial clash which will go a long way to deciding which nation emerges victorious. Both Simona and Petra suffered disappointing losses on Saturday in the first singles matches and therefore will be extremely desperate to record a victory here.
Simona Halep has postponed surgery to her nose in order to compete in this crucial Fed Cup tie for Romania. However, Simona was unable to make the kind of contribution she would have expected on Saturday in the opening rubber of the tie, succumbing to Karolina Pliksova 7-6 4-6 2-6. It was Simona’s first ever loss to Pliskova, the world number 3 won all 3 of their previous encounters in straight sets. Simona was extremely emotional throughout the match which seemed to be one of her biggest problems especially towards the end of the second and third sets. It will be interesting to see how Simona responds when she comes up against a fired up Petra Kvitova on Sunday.
After Pliskova defeated Halep in the opening rubber the tie seemed almost over as it seemed a formality that Kvitova would beat Niculescu and give the Czech’s a 2-0 lead. However, Kvitova produced an erratic performance and was unable to adjust to Niculescu’s unorthodox game suffering a shock 3-6 4-6 loss. Petra usually performs so well when she is representing the Czech Republic at the Fed Cup, she has now lost two Fed Cup rubbers in a row after she lost against Sharapova in the Fed Cup Final last year and will head into Sunday’s important rubber desperate to turn things around.
Simona Halep holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over Petra Kvitova. The Romanian defeated Kvitova in straight sets in the New Haven final back in 2013 and recorded a three set victory over the Czech in Madrid in 2014. This will be a very different clash under very different circumstances and I expect to see a different result.
Petra Kvitova is a proven champion and will highly likely bounce back with a vastly improved performance after a disappointing loss on Saturday. Whilst Simona Halep often struggles under pressure and I am less confident that she can reverse her poor form. I can see that this is a troublesome match-up for Kvitova when she is not playing well but I expect her to really come out firing on Sunday, this is the type of match that she often plays her best tennis.