Fixture: (2) Simona Halep vs Ekaterina Alexandrova
Date: 23 April 2021
Tournament: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2021
Venue: Stuttgart, Germany
Category: WTA 500
Prize money: $565,530
Match timing: Not before 6.30 pm local time, 10 pm IST
Simona Halep vs Ekaterina Alexandrova preview
Looking to kick-start her clay season with a title, Simona Halep takes on Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals of the Porche Tennis Grand Prix on Friday.
Halep's 2021 season has been significantly hampered by injuries so far. After reaching the quarterfinals at the Gippsland Trophy and the Australian Open, Halep was not seen on the WTA Tour until Miami last month. But even there she was forced to withdraw from the third round, due to a right shoulder injury.
The World No. 3 is playing her first event on clay - her preferred surface - in Stuttgart this week. She got her campaign off to a good start on Thursday as she defeated Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets.
Ekaterina Alexandrova, unlike her opponent, has had plenty of match practice this year. The 26-year-old started her season strongly at the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne, where she reached the semifinal. Since then, however, she has failed to put together a deep run at any tournament.
Alexandrova has been solid in Stuttgart so far. She got through a hard-fought three-set win over Karolina Muchova in the first round and then beat eighth seed Belinda Bencic in straight sets in the second.
Simona Halep vs Ekaterina Alexandrova head-to-head
The quarterfinal encounter in Stuttgart is the fourth match between the two players. Ekaterina Alexandrova currently leads the head-to-head 2-1 over Simona Halep.
This, however, is the first meeting between the two players on clay. While the Russian defeated Halep in Melbourne this year and at Beijing in 2019, the Romanian got the better of Alexandrova in their first match - at Cincinnati 2019.
Simona Halep vs Ekaterina Alexandrova prediction
Simona Halep may be the favorite on paper, but her loss to Ekaterina Alexandrova in Melbourne is proof that this is not a matchup that always works to her advantage.
Halep is one of the best claycourters on tour at the moment. The 2018 French Open champion showed no signs of rust in her routine win over Vondrousova on Thursday, and her game also seems well-suited to the slightly quicker conditions in Stuttgart.
Halep is at her best when she is patrolling the baseline efficiently, using her movement and racquet-head speed to outmaneuver her opponents.
Ekaterina Alexandrova, on the other hand, is more comfortable taking the attack to her opponents. The Russian has a big serve and a powerful game, and is capable of firing winners from either wing.
Halep's claycourt skills and her momentum from the match against Vondrousova do give her an edge in this encounter. But if she suffers any physical troubles or mental lapses, she may well be punished by Alexandrova.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in three sets.