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Rome 2020 women's final: Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova preview, head-to-head & prediction | Italian Open

Simona Halep
Simona Halep
ANALYST
Modified 21 Sep 2020, 00:04 IST
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Match details

Fixture: (1) Simona Halep vs (2) Karolina Pliskova

Date: 21 September 2020

Tournament: Italian Open 2020

Round: Final

Venue: Rome, Italy

Category: WTA Premier 5

Surface: Red clay

Prize money: €1,771,082

Match timing: 2:30 pm CEST, 6 pm IST

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Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN

Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova preview

The stage is set at the Foro Italico for two-time finalist Simona Halep to take on defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the final of the 2020 Italian Open.

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.

Karolina Pliskova
Karolina Pliskova

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.

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Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova head-to-head

Simona Halep leads Karolina Pliskova by 7-4 in the H2H
Simona Halep leads Karolina Pliskova by 7-4 in the H2H

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.

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova
Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova

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.

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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
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