Fixture: (3) Simona Halep vs Zheng Saisai
Date: 2 May 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Prize money: €2,549,105
Match timing: Approx. 3 pm local time, 6.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Simona Halep vs Zheng Saisai preview
Simona Halep is on the hunt for a third Mutua Madrid Open title in Spain this week, and she takes on China's Zheng Saisai in the second round on Sunday.
Halep made a solid start to the year in Melbourne, where she lost in the quarterfinals of the Gippsland Trophy and the Australian Open. Injuries kept her out of the majority of the rest of the hardcourt swing, but the 29-year-old has made a good comeback on clay.
Halep reached the semifinals in Stuttgart last week, before losing to Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets. The world No. 3 has now started the Madrid Open in strong fashion, defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0, 7-5 to set up the match against Zheng.
Zheng is a regular fixture on the WTA tour, with lots of experience under her belt. She got her 2021 campaign off to a nightmare start, losing her first five matches. However, she then put together a quarterfinal run on the hardcourts of Monterrey and followed that up with a third-round appearance on the claycourts of Bogota.
Zheng set up the match against Halep after beating Magda Linette 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on Friday.
Simona Halep vs Zheng Saisai head-to-head
The second-round encounter in Madrid is the third match between the two players on tour, and Simona Halep currently leads the head-to-head 2-0 over Zheng Saisai.
Halep defeated Zheng at Wimbledon 2018 and also at Shenzhen in 2015, both in straight sets.
Simona Halep vs Zheng Saisai prediction
Given her ranking and history on clay, Simona Halep is the overwhelming favorite going into this match. Recent form suggests that the Romanian is playing herself into rhythm ahead of the biggest event on clay, Roland Garros.
Halep's speed and defense are among the best on tour, and she also found plenty of depth and power in her groundstrokes against Sorribes Tormo. Her return game is also a considerable threat to any opponent.
For Zheng Saisai, meanwhile, nerves were a prominent feature in the win over Linette. Although the Chinese started the match strongly, she lost her way in the middle and had to rely on a few errors from Linette to right the ship.
Zheng's form coming into the high-profile match against Halep is not particularly good either. If the 27-year-old is unable to find her consistency right from the word go, she will almost certainly be punished by Halep.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in straight sets.