An intriguing opening round match-up between Simona Halep and Madison Keys is scheduled to take part in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. This is the second time these two competitors meet overall, with Keys winning their encounter in Sydney earlier in the year.
The top ranked Romanian won the first six titles of her career last year in a breakout season. While she finished the 2013 season at a career high of No. 11, Halep would only get better this year as she made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open — her best result at a Grand Slam tournament — and won the Qatar Open. After winning the title in Doha with a win over Kerber, Halep had a slight blunder in Dubai, where she lost in the opening round to French No. 1 Alize Cornet before arriving at Indian Wells.
Halep would recover in sublime fashion last week in Madrid, as she worked her way through the draw to set up a fantastic final against Maria Sharapova. It was her first ever WTA Premier Mandatory final. Although Halep would storm though the first set, Sharapova would rally to take the following two sets and win the title. The Romanian will be looking to follow through this week in Rome.
Former top ranked teenager Madison Keys has plateaued considerably since the start of the 2014 season, having lost in the first round in Acapulco, the second round at Indian Wells, the third round in Miami, the second round in Charleston, and most recently the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open. Six of her losses so far this season have come to players ranked below her on the WTA tour, which is a testament to her inconsistency at such a young age.
Where she failed to get past the opening round last week, Keys snapped that losing streak with a win over fellow American Alison Riske in the opening round in Rome.
While her talent and power makes her a tough match for most on her best days, she is unlikely to trouble last week’s finalist Simona Halep much during this encounter.
Prediction: Simona Halep in Three Sets