Simona Halep can continue to pile the pressure on current World No.1 Naomi Osaka with another win on Thursday at the Miami Open. The Romanian will play Ashleigh Barty in what could be a tough test for the 2017 champion. Halep has won two of the three times they have met in the past 12 months but Barty came out on top in their most recent clash this year in Sydney.
Halep might not have expected much trouble against Viktoria Kuzmova in the third round but the manner in which she tore her young opponent apart was remarkably impressive. She needed just 45 minutes to produce a double bagel and dropped just 12 points altogether in the 6-0 6-0 win. “[The roof] was good for me because the game was faster and I could play my best style.” she said “I think everything went very well for me to today. I felt the ball, every single shot.”
Barty needed three sets to defeat Yulia Putintseva but was rarely troubled after dropping the first set, losing just three games from that point onwards. Barty is on a 9 match winning streak on tour, in addition to two Fed Cup wins sandwiched between her Miami title and this event. It’s this kind of form that sees her at a career high of 9, something that should be topped were she to win this match.
“I think without a doubt she’s the best, most consistent clay courter out there, we had a quality practice session earlier this week. It was nice. The first time we’ve hit together and it was a really good level. It’s the absolute test, to play against the best.” Barty said. This match promises a lot on paper with the form player taking on the best clay player. It will be a big ask for her to break down the Halep wall but she is not without a chance.
Prediction – Simona Halep in three sets