World No. 3, Simona Halep faces a tricky start to her Australian Open campaign as she takes on Jennifer Brady in the first round on Tuesday.
Simona Halep vs Jennifer Brady Match Info
Date: Tuesday January 21
Tournament: Australian Open R1
Court: Margaret Court Arena
Time: 7:00pm local time (8.00am GMT)
Simona Halep vs Jennifer Brady Match Info
Halep leads 1-0
2019 | Toronto R2: Halep def. Brady 4-6 7-5 7-6
Simona Halep vs Jennifer Brady Match Preview
Halep is competing in the main draw of the Australian Open for the tenth consecutive season, with her best effort being her runner-up finish at the 2018 edition, where she fell just short against Caroline Wozniacki in an epic three-set final.
Spurred on by that disappointment, the Romanian went on to claim her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros a few months later, and was the year-end No. 1 player for the second successive season. All of that was achieved with coach Darren Cahill in her box, but the pair split at the end of 2018, with Cahill wanting to be with his family.
Halep had a mixed season in 2019- the highest point was her spectacular triumph at Wimbledon, where she outclassed Serena Williams in the final to claim her second major title, but she did not win any other event outside the All England Club, and faded in the final months of the season, stuttering to a 7-7 record post-Wimbledon, and ending the year at No. 4 in the world.
She announced towards the end of 2019 that she will resume working with Cahill in 2020, and the pair will hope to recreate some of the wonderful memories from their last stint together.
Halep opened her season with a quarter final run in Adelaide, where she defeated Ajla Tomljanovic before falling to Aryna Sabalenka. With that early sighter out of the way, the 27-year-old will hope for a much deeper run in Melbourne as she eyes a first title down under.
“I want it badly, but it’s very difficult,” Halep said about her desire to win the Australian Open. “Also the heat sometimes, sometimes it’s cold. The changes are not easy for me to adjust. The very humid atmosphere when I played the final, it was tough for me.”
Halep has failed to cross the first round in four of her nine previous Australian Open campaigns- that will encourage American, Jennifer Brady, as she targets the big upset on Tuesday night.
Brady reached the fourth round of the Australian Open on debut in 2017, but she has not won a main draw match in Melbourne since then, losing to Magda Linette in 2018 and failing to cross the qualifying rounds last season.
That 2017 Australian Open result took Brady into the world’s top 100 for the first time in her career, but she has been in and out of that group since then ending 2018 at No. 115 in the world, and finishing at No. 55 last season. Brady actually dipped as low as 125th in the world in January 2019, but she slowly retraced her route up the rankings, breaking back into the top-100 after reaching the final of the WTA 125K Indian Wells event at the end of February.
Brady’s best tour-level result from the previous season was a semi-final in Nottingham, while she also made the third round at Indian Wells, Dubai and Beijing. Overall, she was an unremarkable 15-16 on the main tour last season, but she had done enough to end the year at 55th- then her career-high ranking.
She has gone even higher in the opening weeks of 2020, breaking into the top-50 after a fine start to the year. Brady opened her season in Brisbane, moving through the qualifiers before beating Maria Sharapova and world No. 1, Ashleigh Barty- her first top-ten win- to reach the quarter finals. The 24-year-old was stopped in the last eight by Petra Kvitova.
Can she find her best form in Melbourne as she opens against Halep on Tuesday?
Simona Halep vs Jennifer Brady Match Prediction
Brady pushed Halep to three sets in their only previous meeting in Toronto last season, losing out in a final set tie break, and like she showed there, and then again, in Brisbane a couple of weeks ago, she is capable of troubling the top players when she’s playing well.
Still, Halep remains a huge favourite here- her supreme athleticism and overall consistency should take her past Brady and into the second round.