After meeting twice in 2010 then never again, Simona Halep and Bethanie Mattek-Sands will meet for the third time on the professional tour, with the head to head series tied at 1-1. However, there is little doubt that Halep, who has progressed to become one of the top players on the WTA tour, will take the lead in the series come Friday afternoon.
The third seed at the Australian Open was on last on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, as she was forced to play after the extended match between Rafael Nadal and Tim Smyczek.
“I didn’t expect that,” Halep said after the match. “But, you know, that’s tennis. Sometimes we have to wait few hours to play. But was okay. If I won, everything was okay. I just stay in the locker room or in the lounge, players lounge, with my team. We are speaking, laughing. Normal things. Nothing special.”
However, the Romainain would not spend much time on court, as she defeated local talent Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the third round of the tournament. Halep hit 7 aces, 21 winners and won 79% of her first service points to close out the win in 1 hour and 7 minutes of court time.
While Mattek-Sands only needed just the two sets to reach the third round, her victory over Kristina Mladenovic came in the form of a pair of tiebreakers. She hit 74% of her first serves in, 38 winners and converted three break points to finish the match in exactly two hours.
“I played once against her in French Open few years ago,” Halep said of her upcoming match-up. “I expect tough match. She’s playing well. She’s fighting till the end. So I have confidence that I can win that match. But, you know, I have to be very focused for every point and to play my game.”
This marks the third time that these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, and the second time at a Grand Slam event. Halep leads the head-to-head series and will likely add to that lead, even though this will be their first meeting in well over four years.
Prediction: Simona Halep in Straight Sets