Simona Halep is now in prime position to return to World No.1 following the French Open. She will take over in the live rankings from Caroline Wozniacki if she wins her quarter final match against Angelique Kerber but needs to outperform Garbine Muguruza to ensure the top spot.
Halep outclassed Elise Mertens for the second time in three tournaments, dropping just three games in her victory – the same as in Madrid. With Elina Svitolina’s early exit and a rising Serena Williams thwarted by injury, Halep probably reverts back to being the tournament favourite with three matches to go. “I think it was a great match, and the way I played gives me confidence that I did everything well until now.” she said “I was a little bit stronger in the important moments. Those four games at the beginning were really important, and after that I relaxed myself and I could play a little bit better.”
Despite being 12th seed, Kerber’s run to the quarter finals comes as something of a shock. Even during the best periods of her career, she often struggled on clay. An impressive run has seen her beat Kiki Bertens and Caroline Garcia back-to-back to make it four straight sets wins in a row to begin the tournament. Having lost 9-7 to Halep in Australia, Kerber is preparing herself for a marathon match. “I know what to expect, but at the end I think that I have to take the match in my hand, trying to be more aggressive, and just taking my chances when I get it. But I think at the end, I think it will be a long match.” she said.
The pair are yet to meet on clay in tournament play, facing off once in Fed Cup action. The win there gives Halep the slight edge in the head to head at 5-4. “I take every match day the same; doesn’t matter if it’s the first week or the second week. What is true is that in the second week you get used to the tournament and to the nerves, in my opinion, I relaxed a little bit after the first week. Every player is different, but both weeks are special.” she said coming into this match. However, the Romanian has struggled to deal with the pressure on countless occasions before and will need to prove she can win the big one before too long.
Prediction – Simona Halep in three sets