Fixture: (1) Simona Halep vs (9) Garbine Muguruza
Date: 20 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,771,082
Match timing: 12 noon CEST, 3:30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza preview
Two-time Grand Slam champions Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza will face each other in a blockbuster semifinal clash at the Italian Open on Sunday.
The top-seeded Halep didn't have to play a full match in the quarterfinals as World No. 30 Yulia Putintseva retired with a lower back injury while trailing 6-2, 2-0. The ninth-seeded Muguruza, on the other hand, had to battle for 2 hours 20 minutes to douse the challenge of US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The fact that she managed to come back and beat the in-form Azarenka would have given a tremendous boost of confidence to Muguruza, who is in the middle of a resurgent season herself. After struggling through the second half of 2019, the 26-year-old seems to have regained her rhythm and range - which she exhibited to perfection during her run to the Australian Open final in January.
But World No. 2 Simona Halep has herself been a picture of consistency all season. The two-time Italian Open runner-up has already won a couple of titles in 2020, with the last one coming on the clay of Prague. Moreover, Halep hasn't lost before the quarterfinals in any of the five events she has played this year.
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza head-to-head
This will be the seventh meeting between Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza, with the Spaniard leading the head-to-head 4-2. But even though Muguruza has the upper hand in the rivalry, it is pertinent to note that the Romanian has emerged victorious in both their claycourt meetings.
Their first ever showdown happened to be a tight one, on the hardcourts of Wuhan in 2014, where the World No. 17 edged Halep 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Muguruza repeated the result at the Fed Cup the following year, but Halep then turned the tables on the claycourts of Stuttgart.
Muguruza destroyed Halep in the 2017 Cincinnati final, but Halep avenged that defeat on her way to winning her first Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros in 2018. In their most recent meeting, at the Australian Open earlier this year, Muguruza beat Halep again in what was a hard-fought battle.
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza prediction
Both Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza have been ranked World No. 1 in the past, and both have lifted the French Open trophy. However, Halep has the edge in this one going by her supremacy over Garbine Muguruza on the red dirt.
Halep is one of the most natural movers on clay, and can easily grind down her opponents with her proactive defense and fantastic placement of the ball. Besides, she also has the advantage of being the fresher of the two; the Romanian has finished each of her three matches in under 1.5 hours this week.
In contrast Muguruza has not only played one match more, but she has also been involved in two grueling three-setters. That could take a toll on her performance should the match against Halep go the distance.
All that aside, there is one thing Simona Halep wants to set right this year - and that is to win the title in Rome after two final defeats. She wouldn't want to squander the golden opportunity this time.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in three sets.Published 20 Sep 2020, 00:46 IST