One of the tips for this year’s title will battle a former champion when Simona Halep takes on Svetlana Kuznetsova on Wednesday. Check out the Halep vs Kuznetsova Head to Head.
Touted by many pundits and punters as the third favourite for the Roland Garros crown, after Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, Halep is now the highest seed remaining in the women’s tournament. It’s an achievement that caps an astonishing 13 months for the Romanian.
Before the Italian Open last year, she was a middle-ranking player struggling to put together wins. Since reaching the last four of that event, however, she has improved with each passing week. She began by winning International titles on clay and grass, then scooped Premier events on outdoor and indoor hard courts. She hoisted the biggest trophy of her career in Doha back in February, and a few weeks ago was just a set away from snatching the silverware in Madrid.
But despite her attention-grabbing form leading into Paris, Halep has shown no signs of feeling the pressure. She hasn’t lost more than seven games in any of her four matches, spending less time on court than any other quarter-finalist. Against Sloane Stephens in the last 16, she played mature, measured tennis and kept her head even when going a break down in both sets. Her superior composure, and savvy changes of direction, eventually undid the flashier American.
Halep will need to be equally steely if she is to get past one of the tour’s most unpredictable but talented players, Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Russian is a long way off the form that once took her to second in the world rankings, but she still knows how to work a clay court when the mood takes her. In Paris, she has produced characteristically bold tennis but, crucially, kept the unforced error count within acceptable limits. She even showed considerable mental mettle – not usually her strongest suit – in recovering from the loss of a knife-edge first set to beat fifth seed Petra Kvitova 9-7 in the third.
The Halep-Kuznetova head-to-head stands at 2-2, with the two clay court matches split. Halep thrashed her 28-year-old rival 6-1, 6-1 in Rome last year, but Kuznetsova scored a surprise narrow victory in Stuttgart more recently.
There’s no question that a peak-form Kuznetsova can blast anyone off the court, and she’ll aim to get the first strike in so as to prevent the steadier Halep from extending rallies. But for all Kuznestosva’s heroics this tournament, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest she can overcome a confident and determined top seed who simply doesn’t miss very much. We’ll tip Halep to sneak a competitive first set and then romp to victory.