Simona Halep continues her hunt for a third Madrid title in four years on Wednesday afternoon, taking on Viktoria Kuzmova. The Slovakian is much improving and now a top 50 player but it will be a tough ask against the top clay player on tour. Kuzmova has played eight times against top 10 players in her short career, with just a win against Kiki Bertens in her eight attempts.
Kuzmova is not the most well known of the next crop of talents but has been going about her business quietly this year. The 20 year-old is in the third round after straight sets wins against Carla Suarez Navarro and Julia Goerges, both still inside the top 30. Two clay titles at $100k level last year suggested she was promising and she has built upon that with a season that puts her well in with a chance of end of year top 30 so far.
Halep had a tight opening set against Johanna Konta before running away with the match 7-5 6-1. She came from an early break down in the first set and was relentless on return with 5 breaks overall. The Romanian is very happy playing at the tournament and that shows in her performances. “I feel good every time when I come to Madrid and I’m happy to be back and winning matches,” Halep said. “It’s a special place for me. Many friends are coming.”
It will be the first meeting between the two but Halep will not get complacent. “It’s a big challenge always when I play with someone that I never played before. So I just want to see what I have to do against her. But the main thing is to focus on myself, on my game, and if I feel it, then I have a better chance.” she added.
Prediction – Simona Halep in straight sets