WTA Dubai Tennis Championships 2019, Quarterfinal 3: Simona Halep vs Belinda Bencic, Preview and Prediction
- The third seed Simona Halep takes on the former world number seven Belinda Bencic in the third quarter-final of the 2019 WTA Dubai Open.
After enduring a miserable last quarter of the previous season, Halep seems to have rediscovered some of her mojo this season. Her fourth-round loss to Serena Williams at the Australian Open may look like a disappointment considering she was the world number one then, but keeping in mind her miserable form before that, it was actually signs of her getting back to form.
Since then, she has helped Romania defeat the defending champions the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup and also reached the finals of the Qatar Open, where she lost a tight three-setter to Elise Mertens.
Her performance in Dubai has been quite impressive so far. She met the former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard in her first match, which she won in straight sets. She has always had one of the best return games on the WTA tour, but what must have been especially pleasing for her is her serve.
In the match against Bouchard, she won 77% of points on her first serve and 59% of points on her second serve. Though there was a slight dip in her serving form against Lesia Tsurenko, she still had a creditable first and second serve win percentage of 72 and 52, respectively.
For the second time in almost a week, she got the better of Tsurenko, and her dominance in the match can be gauged from the fact that she won a whopping nineteen points more than her opponent.
Her opponent in the quarter-final is the resurgent Swiss star Belinda Bencic. The twenty-one-year-old was once touted as a future number one, and had risen to as high as world number seven before injuries and poor form contributed to a sharp dip in her ranking.
She seems to be on her way back now though. Her performance in this tournament has been good, if not spectacular. She won her first two matches rather easily against Lucie Hradecka and Stefanie Vogele.
But her most impressive performance came in the round of sixteen when she dispatched of the number eight seed Aryna Sabalenka in a keenly contested match. She saved multiple match points, before converting her first in the third set tie-breaker.
For much of the match though, she was the worse player. In fact, she won six points fewer than Sabalenka in the match, but raised her game at crucial moments to win the match.
Though she has won three matches on the trot, she has not served well at all. Against Sabalenka, she committed thirteen double faults. She will need to play much better and show more consistency on her serve if she is to have any chance against Halep.
Prediction: Simona Halep to win in Straight SetsPublished 21 Feb 2019, 16:47 IST