The first couple of weeks of the 2020 season has already presented tennis fans with some blockbuster match-ups. One of the tournaments in the lead-up to the Australian Open that has attracted a bevvy of stars is the Adelaide International.
Despite some last-minute withdrawals, the WTA Premier event is all set for a sizzling quarter-final action with some of the biggest names clashing against each other. Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep meets the highly talented Aryna Sabalenka in her quest for a semi-final spot.
Halep has never won the year's first Major and her best performance has been a runner-up finish in 2018. The Romanian narrowly missed out on winning the title against a feisty Caroline Wozniacki and would aim for a second chance.
The former World No. 1 would most definitely love to head to Melbourne with a trophy in tow. And mastering such a quality field in Adelaide would surely give her immense confidence.
On paper, World No. 12 Sabalenka should be an easy opponent for Halep, who might be lacking in aggression when compared to the Belarusian but certainly has a more solid game. In terms of attacking prowess and ruthlessness, the 21-year-old is way ahead of her more accomplished rival as evidenced by her run to the Wuhan title the last two years.
On the flip side, however, the sixth-seeded Sabalenka's game is more prone to breaking down if she is taken out of her comfort zone. With her brutal speed and fabulous footwork, Halep would target exactly that and not let Sabalenka build a rhythm like she did twice when they met and won both their meetings in straight sets.
With Sabalenka having come a long way since their last face-off in 2018, a one-sided result cannot be expected again but the balance is most definitely tilted in the patient and calm Halep's favour again.
Here's all you need to know about Adelaide International 2020:
Tournament: Adelaide International 2020
Category: WTA Premier
City: Adelaide, Australia
Prize money: $848, 000
Match schedule: (2) Simona Halep vs (6) Aryna Sabalenka not before 7:30 am IST on January 16, 2020
Head-to-head: Halep leads 2-0