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Adelaide International 2020: Simona Halep vs Aryna Sabalenka, preview and prediction

ANALYST
Preview
Published 15 Jan 2020, 21:21 IST
15 Jan 2020, 21:21 IST

Simona Halep is playing in just her second match of the year.
Simona Halep is playing in just her second match of the year.

The field at the Adelaide International 2020 has opened up considerably after some last-minute withdrawals. The top stars remaining in the draw have an even bigger chance to go all the way in the inaugural edition.

Two of these contenders, however, would be locked in a battle for the semifinal spot. The first quarterfinal to be played on Thursday, this match will feature second seed Simona Halep take on the sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka.

A match-up of opposite styles of play, this one is bound to be a delight for the fans at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre.

Aryna Sabalenka has had to battle through the opening rounds.
Aryna Sabalenka has had to battle through the opening rounds.

Sabalenka has an ultra-aggressive game, and looks to hit a winner on practically every ball that comes her way. She has had considerable success with this particular style, but had to struggle through her opening matches here this week.

She was tested thoroughly by her opponent in the first round, Hsieh Su-Wei. The crafty Taiwanese was able to deconstruct Sabalenka's game and almost caused a huge upset.

That is particularly interesting because Halep can do the same to her opponents, albeit using a completely different style of play than Hsieh. But it is clear that if Sabalenka doesn't feel like she's in control of her matches, she is beatable.

Halep has always consistent from the backcourt, but has taken up an aggressive approach off late.
Halep has always consistent from the backcourt, but has taken up an aggressive approach off late.

If Halep keeps throwing different things the way of her opponent in terms of spin, pace and bounce, it wouldn't take long for a frustrated Sabalenka to start making unforced errors.

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It does go against Halep's nature to mix her shots, as she likes to play a very consistent game from the back court. However, she is unlikely to win too many rallies from the back court against a vastly improved Sabalenka.

The last time that these two met was over two years ago, and both have evolved as players since then. Halep has adopted a more aggressive approach to her game, but I'm not too sure if that would be the best option against Sabalenka, who wouldn't mind extra pace on the ball.

Prediction: Halep to win in three sets.

Modified 15 Jan 2020, 21:21 IST
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