After surviving an upset bid in her opening round, Simona Halep continues her Australian Open title quest on Thursday against British qualifier Harriet Dart.
Simona Halep ?? vs Harriet Dart ?? Match Info
Date: Thursday January 23
Tournament: Australian Open R2
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 7.00pm local time (8.00am GMT)
Simona Halep vs Harriet Dart Head-to-Head
Simona Halep vs Harriet Dart Match Preview
Seeded fourth at the 2020 Australian Open, Halep was tasked with facing one of the draw’s most dangerous floaters in the opening round – and after an almighty first set scare, the Romanian was able to navigate the challenge and advance into the second round in straight sets.
Jennifer Brady established herself as the unseeded first round rival none of the top players wanted to face after beating Ashleigh Barty and Maria Sharapova to make the Brisbane quarter-finals to launch the season, and for a moment, it appeared as if she was going to add Halep to her list of scalps. The pair had played once before – in Canada last year when Halep emerged victorious in a deciding set tiebreak – and Brady was troubling the two-time major champion once more in Melbourne, twice leading by a break and serving for the opener at 6-5 after Halep required a medical time-out after getting broken following a fall on her wrist.
All smiles after beginning her #AO2020 campaign with a win.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 21, 2020
Halep saved one of the set points with a passing shot, but Brady faltered on the other two, committing a pair of unforced errors, and that ultimately proved the turning point of the match. The reigning Wimbledon champion squeezed out the tiebreak and dropped just one more game for the match, prevailing by a 7-6(5) 6-1 scoreline.
“I felt great…I didn’t feel that I’m getting tired, which is a good sign. I recovered after Adelaide because there I felt a little bit weird,” Halep said. “I work hard here. I’m just happy about the way I played and also about the way I moved. It’s really important to move well on these courts.
“I remember when I played once against [Shelby] Rogers and she beat me here, Zhang [Shuai], so big hitters, [Sloane] Stephens. Not easy to play with them at the first moment of the tournament because you are not ready, totally ready, you don’t have the rhythm. But I had experience, and I knew that if I hang in there, I have a better chance to win.”
After winning her second Grand Slam at Wimbledon last year, defeating Serena Williams in straight sets in the final, Halep struggled for the rest of 2019, failing to make a semi-final in her next six tournaments and losing two of the three matches she played at the WTA Finals, with her only win coming against an injured Bianca Andreescu.
Reunited with Darren Cahill for 2020, Halep launched her season in Adelaide, where she lost in straight sets in the quarter-finals to Aryna Sabalenka, so it’s safe to say the Romanian doesn’t bring great form or momentum into the Australian Open. However, she should get a chance to further find her rhythm in her second round clash.
Harriet Dart was determined to erase the memories of a dreaded ‘double bagel’ (6-0 6-0) loss in the Australian Open first round last year to Maria Sharapova, and she’s certainly done that over the last week. Forced to go through qualifying, Dart didn’t drop a set in victories over Elitsa Kostova, Nicole Gibbs and Giulia Gatto-Monticone, while she scored a memorable win in the opening round of the main draw on Tuesday, beating Misaki Do in a deciding set tiebreak, coming from a set down to emerge triumphant 2-6 6-4 7-6(6).
Currently ranked No. 164 in the world, Dart’s highlight of 2019 undoubtedly came at Wimbledon, where as a wildcard she beat Christina McHale and Beatriz Haddad Maia to reach the third round. Her reward was a date with World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty on Centre Court, but Hart wasn’t up to the challenge as she went down 1-6 1-6. Dart, 23, would go on to qualify for the U.S. Open main draw, losing to Ana Bogdan in the first round, but she didn’t have a good finish to the year, losing her last three matches. Dart lost in qualifying in her first event of 2020 in Brisbane, but she’s won four matches in Melbourne and now has another opportunity to face a top player on a big court at a slam.
Simona Halep vs Harriet Dart Prediction
Halep is still far from her best, but this is a great match-up for her. The Romanian won’t get blown off the court by Dart, and I don’t see how the Brit can do anything to cause any damage here. Halep simply has to play her game, outlast Dart in baseline exchanges and the result should be a fairly routine straight sets victory.