Samantha Stosur and Simona Halep will meet for the tenth time in their careers at the 2017 Mutua Madrid Open.
(16) Samantha Stosur (No.26) vs (3) Simona Halep (No.8)
Overview: Samantha Stosur has not had a great year so far. Posing a 11-11 win-loss record, she did not win a single match on home soil and her best runs were quarterfinal appearances in Taipei City and Doha, and a round of 16 performance at Miami, where she lost to her opponent she is going to face, Simona Halep. On the dirt where she is supposedly No.5 in the clay court power rankings according to the WTA, Stosur hasn’t produced excellent results either, winning only three matches in Charleston, Stuttgart and Prague. In Madrid, Stosur notched her second and third wins on the red clay, a comfortable 6-2 6-0 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo, then a trickier match against Duque Marino but she ultimately won 6-2 7-5.
After a slow start to the season which was plagued by an injury, Simona Halep made the quarterfinals in Miami and won two matches in the controversial Fed Cup tie against Great Britain which were cruicial as Romania managed to stay in World Group II. On to the clay season, and Halep reached the semifinals in Stuttgart after wins over Barbora Strycova and Anastasija Sevastova, but fell to a spirited Laura Siegemund. As the favourite to capture her first Grand Slam title in Roland Garros, she is looking to keep up the pace and she has done so with wins over Kristyna Pliskova and Roberta Vinci. Halep was almost beaten – the Italian led 5-2 and was serving for the match at 5-3, but faltered and Halep took advantage of that to win the match in a tiebreaker.
Head to head: Halep has a slight advantage in the head to head against Stosur – she leads 5-4, but Stosur leads 3-1 on the clay. Halep won their encounter in Madrid last year though, a 6-2 6-0 thumping in the semifinals.
Random stat: Both did well in Madrid last year – Stosur made the semifinals while Halep went on to win the title against Dominika Cibulkova. A loss in this match would mean they would tumble down the rankings a little.
Thoughts: Both players are great clay courters, Halep having reached the Roland Garros final in 2014, losing to Maria Sharapova. Stosur too made the French Open final in 2010. Halep really needs to play better then she did against Vinci yesterday – she did well in the first and third sets, but lacked energy in the second and Vinci was able to move around to hit her forehand and attack with it. That’s what Stosur will do too – she prefers her forehand and will move around in search of that wing. The Australian can be inconsistent, like her loss to Madrid last year against Simona where she only won two games, but when she’s on, she’s on. It’s a tough one to call but I have a hunch that Halep will win this.
Prediction: Halep to defeat Stosur in three