On paper, this looks to be one of the more intriguing women’s matches to date in this year’s open. It pits a talented youngster in Daria Kasatkina against one of the elite on the surface in Simona Halep, once more thrust into favouritism by the absence of many a contender in the draw and the current top 2 far from convincing on the surface.
It was almost a little disappointing to see Kasatkina defeat Marketa Vondrousova in the previous round, with the Czech in blistering form prior to her loss to Kasatkina. How she shaped up against Halep would have been fascinating but it’s hard to imagine we will have to wait long for her to spring up again. Kasatkina had come into the tournament with injury concerns but looks just fine right now, backing up her opening round win against Yanina Wickmayer with a second consecutive win in straights.
Halep has been efficient in her opening two rounds, winning in straights against Jana Cepelova and Tatjana Maria. “I think it was a difficult match today,” she said after her win over the German “I hadn’t played against her in many years. I didn’t expect her to play at such a high level, so at the beginning I was a little bit insecure.” Like Kasatkina, Halep does appear to have shaken off any injury doubts in the first two rounds but that won’t stop the Russian trying to exploit it if there are still concerns. “I’m excited to play against her. Each time I play her, it’s a tough match. She has a very big topspin forehand, so it’s going to be very heavy. I have to make her run, because she’s a little bit injured, like me!”
Prediction – Simona Halep in straight sets