Simona Halep looks to return to the Australian Open final after a two year absence, taking on Garbine Muguruza for the opportunity to compete for the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup on Saturday. Halep was a losing finalist in 2018 but it provided the impetus for her to go on and win her first slam at the very next opportunity in Paris.
Halep needed less than an hour to move into another slam semi final, taking apart Anett Kontaveit in a dominant 6-1 6-1 victory. She was barely troubled after a key break for *2-1 in the opener, breaking on all but the first and last service games of the Estonian. “Perfection doesn’t exist, but I’m very happy with the way I played,” Halep said afterwards. “I felt great on court. I was moving great. I felt the ball, like, really, really good. It was a great match.”
Muguruza has been growing in confidence throughout the tournament and looked great again in victory against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She hit 21 winners including 6 aces in the 7-5 6-3 win over the Russian, displaying her ability to take out more attacking players after strong wins against the more defensive minded pair of Kiki Bertens and Elina Svitolina. “It definitely has been from low to high, not starting at my best, then each day recovering,” she said about her rough patch. “I would say I think those years were less successful if you compare them to my previous years. I just think you struggle as a player, and there are moments where things don’t go your way. You just have to be patient and go through the rough moments, just hang in there and it will come back again.”
It’s a matchup that has been evenly matched in the past with the pair going 2-2 each other, including splitting two matches back in 2018. Muguruza burst on to the scene as a player capable of playing explosive tennis and the partnership with Conchita Martinez looks to have revived a career that looked to be flagging over the past few years. If she continues the level of play she has displayed in the latter part of this fortnight, her power may prove too much for the Romanian. It has to be reassuring for the Spaniard, who has already seen off two strong defensive players in this draw already. “She’s a very solid player. She’s played very consistently through all these years.” Muguruza said. “It’ll be a tough match. That’s the case no matter when you play the Top 5. It’s a semifinal, so of course I’m expecting her to bring her best game.”
Prediction – Garbine Muguruza in three sets