Fourth seed Simona Halep will play surprise package Andrea Petkovic on Thursday after both came through rain-delayed quarter-finals in Paris. Check out the Halep vs Petkovic Head to Head.
Petkovic proved that she is well and truly back on form by demolishing 10th seed Sara Errani 6-2, 6-2. After several seasons dogged by injuries, the German had been slowly regaining her footing in the upper echelons of the game. She won her first title since 2011 in Charleston three months ago, and duly crept back into the top 30.
But the calibre of her play on Wednesday was in another class altogether. Returning with ferocity and precision, she won 67% of the points when Errani served. To make matters worse for the underpowered Italian, Petkovic had a solid serving day herself, landing 91% of her first deliveries in court.
“I was in a real zone,” said the delighted 28th seed afterwards. “I didn’t think at all. I was just focused on what I had to do. Mentally I was really good.”
While Petkovic was producing an unexpectedly exquisite performance on Court Philippe Chatrier, it was business as usual for Simona Halep over on Suzanne Lenglen. Facing 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Romanian mastered the slow, heavy conditions and exploited the injured Kuznetsova’s lack of mobility. She converted 75% of break point opportunities, hit 18 winners and rarely lost control of the rallies. It was a fifth straightforward win in a row for Halep; none of her opponents so far has taken more than seven games from her.
A couple of weeks ago, a match-up between Halep and Petkovic would have been tipped as a relatively easy scalp for the Constanta-born star. Halep won both of their 2013 encounters in straight sets, and has enjoyed a much more consistent and successful start to the 2014 season. She’ll still be the favourite to secure a place in her first ever Grand Slam final, but if Petkovic can replicate the form that saw her dismantle Errani, it could be a difficult task.
Halep has a more varied game than Errani, and she likes to take the ball early. She’ll aim to wrong-foot Petkovic as she did Kuznetsova and change direction as often as possible in order to keep the underdog off balance. Petkovic, meanwhile, needs to return aggressively again, as well as hit with extra topspin in order to neutralise the 5’6” Halep’s power.
It’s possible that Halep, untested in tough situations this fortnight, could struggle to contain a rampant and confident Petkovic. But the world number four is a remarkably steady and savvy competitor, more than capable of adjusting tactics when things aren’t going her way. Petkovic has the tools and the talent to make this contest close, but we’ll pick Halep to come through an intriguing three-setter.
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