Even though Wimbledon hasn’t been the most productive tournament for either player, the standout clash in the women’s draw on Friday has to be that of battle between two former World No.1’s in Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep. Halep is a one time semi-finalist while Azarenka has made it to the last 8 just once – but did win a bronze medal at the London Olympics at the same venue.
Concerns of a Halep injury after her medical timeout in round one seem to have gone away but she was still given a stern test by her fellow Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu in round two, eventually winning 6-3 4-6 6-2. She needed to work hard for the win but will need to improve on a performance that saw her hit just 11 winners and get broken six times overall. “It’s a little bit tough when you come from clay court, but this year I had more time to get ready for the grass. It’s totally different, the game. I cannot slide here as I like on clay court. You don’t have that much time to think about the shots.” she said on the changes she needs to make. “You have to be very fast, a little bit to block the balls when the opponents are hitting strong. So is different. I’m trying just to improve in this way. Today I did not go to the net at all, but my goal is to do that.”
Azarenka has rarely looked like the superstar she was prior to the birth of her son but could well be playing herself into form if this week is anything to go by. She crushed a dangerous Ajla Tomljanovic in round two, dropping just two games in victory – both of them coming at the start of her 6-2 6-0 win.
Azarenka and Halep have met four times overall, with the head to head currently split at 2-2. Both Halep wins came when she was World No.2 with the most recent being at Wimbledon. She won in straights against Azarenka in the early stages of her return but with Belarussian finally having the opportunity to make a deep run, it will be a much different prospect for her this time round. “It’s going to be a big challenge for me, tough one, because she’s playing not very flat but she’s very aggressive. So on grass it’s not that easy.” Halep said.
Prediction – Victoria Azarenka in three sets