Simona Halep is one step away from claiming the Madrid-Rome double, but standing in her way is Elina Svitolina. Who will claim the prestigious Premier 5 tournament in Rome?
(6) Simona Halep [No.4] vs (8) Elina Svitolina [No.11]
Overview: After a dismal three months having lost in the second round of Shenzhen, first round of the Australian Open, third round of Indian Wells and withdrawing from St.Petersburg, Doha and Dubai, Simona Halep has impressed throughout the clay court swing, having a 12-1 win-loss record with a title in Madrid, semifinals in Stuttgart and now a final appearance in Rome.
Halep’s Rome campaign started with a 6-4 6-4 victory over German, Laura Siegemund, who had beaten Halep on her way to the Stuttgart title. The Romanian then clinched a three-set victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a dark horse for the French Open. Her next two opponents, Anett Kontaveit and Kiki Bertens, were no match for the World No.4 as she only lost 12 games against them en route to the Rome final. Standing in her way is Elina Svitolina, who is gunning for her fourth title of the year.
Elina Svitolina is looking to win her second Premier 5 tournament of the season, having won the tournament in Dubai, the biggest title of her career, where she beat Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki enroute to her victory. Don’t forget her International titles in Taipei City and Istanbul as well.
The Ukrainian has been a stand out player in Rome, first edging past Alize Cornet who held set points against her in a marathon second set tiebreaker. Next was Mona Barthel, who took the first set 6-3. But Svitolina stormed back to win the last 12 games of the match. She continued to impress against Karolina Pliskova, then took advantage of an ailing Garbine Muguruza to send herself into the final.
Random stat: With the title, Halep will climb to No.3 in the world and secure a No.2 seeding in the French Open. Svitolina can reach as high as No.5 with the victory.
Thoughts: Something surprising I realised was that Kerber, who has somewhat a same playing style as Halep, has a dismal record against Svitolina who has won their last four matches. Not sure whether that will come into play, but Svitolina has been a new player since those victories, seemingly playing more aggressive this season which she has already reaped the benefits with so many titles.
Meanwhile, Halep has been playing so well this year, definitely a huge favourite for the French Open title right now. She has been really patient, waiting for the right time to attack the balls. There are only a few things that could stop Halep from taking the Grand Slam now – her serve, who has been steady this two weeks but when she meets aggressive players it can really be in danger. She also needs to improve her net game – in my opinion if she comes to the net points can be finished quickly.
All in all, I think this is a pretty even matchup and it could be a long and grueling battle. Halep will definitely be a bit tired from her Madrid and Rome endeavours, but my instinct is with the Romanian player to go through in three.
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