Blockbuster match alert! Victoria Azarenka will face Simona Halep with the latter having won their most recent encounter at the 2015 US Open in one of her best performances ever. Will that happen again on Magic Monday?
Victoria Azarenka [No.678] vs (2) Simona Halep [No.2]
Overview: Simona Halep is into the fourth round at Wimbledon after really gutsy performances to get through her first three opponents. After her final loss to Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open, Halep is doing really well to get over that loss (watch interview below) and I have been really impressed with her so far at Wimby. Not at her best, Halep managed to scrap past Marina Erakovic and Beatrice Haddad Maia to book a third round clash with Peng Shuai. The Romanian was solid on serve against Peng and came back from 1-3 down to take the first 6-4. The second set was much closer with Peng taking her chances on the important moments with her flat groundstrokes. Into the second set tiebreak, Halep played gutsy tennis to save a set point and secure her spot into the fourth round.
Victoria Azarenka will be back into the Top 200 in the rankings after a big run to the round of 16. The 28-year-old mother came back to the WTA tour in Mallorca, where she beat Risa Ozaki in an epic before falling to Ana Konjuh. That solitary two matches has seemingly ignited Azarenka, as she produced gutsy performances to fend off the challenges of Catherine Bellis, Elena Vesnina and Heather Watson. The rust was evident in Mallorca but is slowly starting to disappear, and seemingly back to where she left on in 2016.
Head to head: Azarenka leads the head 2-1, but both of the World No.678’s wins came in 2012 where Halep was still an up and coming teenager. Halep claimed a titanic tussle in the 2015 US Open where she described it as ‘one of her best matches in tennis’.
Thoughts: This is definitely one of the best matches of the round of 16 line-up – so, so disappointed that it didn’t end up on the main courts! The Wimbledon scheduling this year has really been very bias and I seriously am utterly frustrated with the schedulers. Anyway, back to the tennis, I am impressed with the way Halep has battled past her matches so far even when she has not been playing at her best. An instance where she was playing at her best though, was in the second set tiebreak against Peng, where she probably made her most convincing venture into the net in her whole career when defending set point. She also mentally resetted really well when she asked for a hawk-eye on a ball that Peng hit in. Azarenka is playing well too, coming into the net and playing aggressively every match, but if Halep is at her counter-punching best, I don’t see why the Romanian can’t win this one.