Fixture: (1) Simona Halep vs (2) Karolina Pliskova
Date: 21 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €1,771,082
Match timing: 2:30 pm CEST, 6 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova preview
Halep withstood a tremendous challenge by Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals, and kept her nerve when the Spaniard was threatening to make a third-set comeback. The Romanian displayed some terrific defense and counterpunching ability to negate Muguruza’s attacking instincts and come through in three sets.
In the other semifinal, Karolina Pliskova got past the dangerous Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets, winning 6-2, 6-4. The World No. 4 was her usual self, hitting winners at will against Vondrousova, who had no answer to her compatriot’s power off the ground.
Simona Halep has been unbeaten since the resumption of the tour, winning nine consecutive matches so far - including the title at Prague. Clay has long been an ally for Halep, and she seems to be going from strength to strength this year.
With their eyes firmly set on the upcoming French Open, both Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova would be keen to assert their credentials with a win here. But the result might have greater significance for Halep, as she has never won in Rome despite reaching the final twice in the past.
Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova head-to-head
Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova have faced each other 11 times so far, with the Romanian leading the head-to-head 7-4.
That said, Pliskova has won three of her last four matches against Halep, including one on clay (Madrid 2018). Halep certainly won't have it easy if she is to win her maiden title in Rome.
Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova prediction
This is a very contrasting match-up on paper in terms of playing styles.
At one end we have Karolina Pliskova, who is very aggressive off both wings and enjoys hitting big from the baseline. And at the other there is Simona Halep, who excels at retrieving balls and elongating rallies with her exceptional foot speed.
The key for Pliskova in this match would be to introduce a few variations - including slices and drop shots - to push Halep out of her baseline comfort zone. Halep on her part should guard against a drop in focus, which has seen her lose leads in many crucial matches.
The Romanian's first serve could also be a weak spot, as it is much slower than Pliskova's and so would be constantly under attack. A lot would depend on the second serves of the two women, and how effective they are at protecting it.
All that said, Halep has long been denied the title at the Foro Italico, and would likely come into this clash with a lot more determination. That might just tilt the tie in her favor.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in three sets.Published 21 Sep 2020, 00:04 IST