Fixture: (12) Simona Halep vs Jessica Pegula
Date: 18 August 2021
Tournament: Western & Southern Open
Round: Second round (Round of 64)
Venue: Cincinnati, United States
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,835,490
Match timing: Approx. 7 pm local time, 11 pm GMT, 4.30 am IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video | India - Voot Select
Simona Halep vs Jessica Pegula preview
Simona Halep will be hoping to continue her comeback when she faces local favorite Jessica Pegula in the Cincinnati second round on Wednesday.
Halep is a three-time finalist at the Western & Southern Open, but she had been AWOL for three months after pulling her calf muscle at the Italian Open in May. The Romanian eventually made her return to the tour at the WTA 1000 event in Montreal last week, but she lost to Danielle Collins in her opener.
Not to be deterred, Halep scored her first win since May at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, overcoming Magda Linette in three sets. Halep overcame a second-set blip against the dangerous Pole to advance to the second round in Cincinnati.
It should be noted, however, that the Romanian is struggling with a minor thigh injury, as evidenced by a medical time-out late in the second set.
Jessica Pegula, on her part, has enjoyed some of the best results of her young career in 2021. The American went on a giant-killing spree at the Australian Open in January, beating Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina and Samantha Stosur before losing to eventual finalist Jennifer Brady in the quarterfinals.
Pegula has followed up her Grand Slam breakthrough with consistent results on the WTA tour. The highlight of that came at last week's National Bank Open where the American reached the semifinals, losing to Italy's Camila Giorgi.
Pegula has seemingly carried her rich vein of form to Cincinnati, getting some good old-fashioned revenge over Giorgi in her opener on Tuesday.
Simona Halep vs Jessica Pegula head-to-head
The second-round match in Cincinnati will be the first-ever career meeting between Simona Halep and Jessica Pegula, so the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Simona Halep vs Jessica Pegula prediction
Simona Halep has struggled with injury for quite some time now, but her performances since her return suggest she is on an upward trajectory. Although the Romanian had a little discomfort in her right leg during the match on Tuesday, she was still able to win 73% of her first-serve points en route to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory.
But Jessica Pegula will not be deterred by any of that. The American is capable of striking winners as well as mixing up the pace in the rallies, which will help her in always keeping Halep on the move.
Although the Romanian herself possesses good groundstrokes, she might not want to engage her younger opponent in longer exchanges.
Halep will likely face an uphill battle against a red-hot opponent like Pegula, considering she's not fully fit right now. But the Romanian is a fighter who is always capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat, and we expect her to eke out the win if the match goes the distance.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in three sets.