We have had so many fun matches in Rome this week (Sharapova vs Ostapenko, Gavrilova vs Muguruza) and the sound of this final seems to be the same as well. It’s a repeat of last year’s Rome final as Elina Svitolina will try to defend her title against the World No.1, Simona Halep. Read on for the preview…
 Simona Halep (No.1) vs  Elina Svitolina (No.4)
The World No.1 Halep battled past Maria Sharapova in a two and a half hour tussle in a 4-6 6-1 6-4 scoreline. From the highlights this sounded like a crazy match – the first set was a break fest with Halep broken in all five of her service games with the lone hold of serve Sharapova took vital. Sharapova was completely the aggressor in the first – however this changed soon as she started to leak more errors while Halep won 71% of first serves in the second set. The decider was definitely a fun one – Halep’s consistent play eventually shone through as Sharapova’s tired legs let her down. This was a good test for Halep to prepare her for the upcoming challenges in the final and in the French Open soon.
Svitolina will be gunning for her third WTA title of the year in Rome after strong performances to beat Angelique Kerber (6-4 6-4) and Anett Kontaveit (6-4 6-3) back-to-back. Svitolina was largely impressive in both of her matches – her game now is a far cry from her extremely defensive gamestyle in 2014-2015.
The straight-sets scoreline against Kontaveit does not show how tight a match that was. Svitolina was super solid and took advantage of a nervy and patchy Kontaveit to take the first set – afterwards, she started to increase her aggression and started to dictate play, especially with her forehand. Kontaveit continued to apply the pressure but the Ukrainian was unwilling to budge in her service games. The other impressive part of her game was her serve; Svitolina did not face a break point in the second set and won 77% of first serves and 75% of second serves. The Ukranian is looking like a contender for the French Open…
Head to head: Svitolina leads the head to head 3-1, with the Ukranian beating Halep in straights in their past two meetings. On clay, the series is tied at 1-1 (both encounters in 2017), with Svitolina winning in the Rome final 4-6 7-5 6-1, then Halep exacted revenge in Roland Garros two weeks later, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0.
Stats: Svitolina has won her last seven finals and holds a 11-2 career record in WTA finals. Halep has a 16-13 record in WTA finals and has lost her last five of six finals.
Thoughts: I am so looking forward to this one! After last year’s Roland Garros clash, I’ve been hoping for another Halep-Svitolina match-up on the dirt. Svitolina has had Halep’s number in their recent meetings and she’s serving way better than Halep at the moment – Svitolina got broken only once in her semifinal, while Halep’s serve was broken eight times by Sharapova. I’ve also been extremely impressed with Svitolina’s aggression and she seemingly always is able to raise her game for the showpiece.
As always, hoping for a competitive final…
Final Prediction: Elina Svitolina d. Simona Halep in three sets
Thanks for reading! 🙂