Fixture: (2) Simona Halep vs Marketa Vondrousova
Date: 22 April 2021
Tournament: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 16)
Venue: Stuttgart, Germany
Category: WTA 500
Prize money: $565,530
Match timing: Not before 5 pm local time, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport
Simona Halep vs Marketa Vondrousova preview
Simona Halep will be looking to complete her set of premier European claycourt titles at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart this week. First up, Halep faces Marketa Vondrousova in a second-round encounter on Thursday.
Halep's 2021 season has been underwhelming by her lofty standards. The World No. 3 has played just three tournaments so far, and reached the quarterfinals at two (the Australian Open and the Gippsland Trophy). At Miami, a shoulder injury forced her to forfeit her third-round match to Anastasija Sevastova.
Having fully recovered and recharged her batteries, the Romanian would now be itching to get into her favorite part of the season. Halep has claimed titles at the French Open, Madrid and Rome in the past, with Stuttgart being the only big tournament to have eluded her.
The former World No. 1 will leave no stone unturned as she looks to taste glory at the German clay tournament for the very first time. But standing between Halep and a quarterfinal spot is a tough opponent - Marketa Vondrousova.
Vondrousova is best known for her scintillating run to the final of the 2019 French Open, where she lost to Ashleigh Barty. The southpaw hasn't managed to make much of an impact since then, but she did find her range when the tour shifted to clay last year in Rome.
The 21-year-old started 2021 with a run to the semis at the Yarra Valley Classic. She then made the fourth round at the Australian Open and Miami, and has now embarked on the clay season full of confidence.
Vondrousova began her Stuttgart campaign with a 6-1, 7-6(6) win over Marie Bouzkova on Wednesday.
Simona Halep vs Marketa Vondrousova head-to-head
Marketa Vondrousova has a 2-0 lead over Simona Halep in their head-to-head, with both her wins coming in three sets. The two squared off for the first time at Indian Wells 2019, where the Czech emerged a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 winner.
Vondrousova won again during their face-off in Rome that same year, running off to a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 win.
Simona Halep vs Marketa Vondrousova prediction
This is a tough match-up for Simona Halep, to say the least. Moreover, the relatively quicker conditions at Stuttgart might rob Halep of the time she looks while hitting her shots.
Controlling the rallies from the baseline will be difficult for the two-time Stuttgart semifinalist, especially against an opponent who is known for her variety.
With her slice-and-dropshot combination, Marketa Vondrousova will thoroughly test Halep's speed and footwork. The Czech won't hesitate to rush to the net for quick putaways either, so Halep needs to maintain the depth on her groundstrokes.
That said, Vondrousova isn't known to have the biggest of serves, and that could present Halep with a ray of hope. The 21-year-old can also suffer lapses in concentration midway through her matches, which was evident in the first round against Marie Bouzkova; Vondrousova squandered a break advantage in the second set to let it stretch to a tie-break.
Should such lapses recur, Hale will have a good chance of notching up her first-ever win over the southpaw.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in three sets.