Former runner-up Simona Halep squares off against first-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Anett Kontaveit with a place in the Australian Open semi-finals on the line on Wednesday.
Simona Halep ?? vs Anett Kontaveit ?? Match Info
Date: Wednesday January 29
Tournament: Australian Open QF
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 11.00am local time (12.00am GMT)
Simona Halep vs Anett Kontaveit Head-to-Head
Halep leads 2-0
2017 | Rome QF | Halep 6-2 6-4
2017 | Miami R32 | Halep 6-3 6-0
Simona Halep vs Anett Kontaveit Match Preview
Yet to drop a set in her first four matches, is Halep readying herself for another shot at the Australian Open title?
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but Halep has navigated through the first four rounds with aplomb, conquering Jennifer Brady, Harriet Dart, Yulia Putintseva and Elise Mertens in straight sets. Halep was forced to dig deep in order to overcome former semi-finalist Mertens in the fourth round on Monday, with a mid-match surge in which she won six games on the bounce ultimately proved the difference. Mertens did come back from a double break down in the second set, but she couldn’t maintain the aggressive tennis that was needed to overpower Halep, with the Belgian dropping her serve as soon as she levelled for 4-4 – and the Romanian went on to successfully serve out the match.
Halep finished with 21 winners to just eight unforced errors in a very clean performance, while by contrast, Mertens was undone by 38 errors compared to 36 winners. The reigning Wimbledon champion has now advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals on four occasions, finishing runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in a three-set thriller in 2018.
“Mentally, I think I did a great job today at 4-All with those break points, game points. But in the end, I got the game and then I served very well the last game. I feel like I played a better match than all the matches since I’m here.
“I feel happy about that, and I’m trying just to stay focused. I like how I feel.”
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 already looks like she’s going to be in for a more consistent season, and right now, she’s certainly got to be considered among the top three favourites for the title in Melbourne. Can she use that experience to move past the 28th seed on Wednesday?
Kontaveit became the first Estonian to make the Australian Open quarter-finals when she overcame the challenge of 18-year-old rising star Iga Swiatek on Monday. Coming into the match on the back of a crushing 6-0 6-1 rout of sixth seed Belinda Bencic in the third round, Kontaveit was forced to recover from a set down to power past Swiatek, who was also looking to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final. Kontaveit almost let the Polish player back into the match after wasting a 5-1 lead in the third set, but she regrouped magnificently to win the final two games and the match, 6-7(4) 7-5 7-5.
“It was a really, really tough match. Iga is a really good player. She was really tough and she was playing great tennis,” Kontaveit said.
“I just had to stay tough. I mean, of course it wasn’t easy. I feel like I could have done some things better, but I’m so proud of myself the way I was fighting through until the end.
“I think it definitely gives me a little bit of confidence getting through those close matches.”
After making back-to-back fourth rounds at the Australian Open and French Open in 2018 and reaching the Miami Open semi-finals in 2019, Kontaveit hit her career-high ranking of No. 14, but a lack of consistency and a horrible illness that she suffered at in September last year contributed to her falling out of the top 30. Indeed, Kontaveit was forced to withdraw before the U.S. Open third round as she was hospitalised with the energy-sapping illness that ultimately sidelined her for the remainder of the year. However, Kontaveit is back and seemingly better than ever in Melbourne – can she score a big upset to make her first major semi-final?
Simona Halep vs Anett Kontaveit Prediction
Halep has won both of their previous meetings in straight sets without dropping more than four games in a set, but those matches came in 2017. Kontaveit has progressed a lot since then, but I don’t think this match-up on these slow Australian Open courts is going to suit her. Halep is going to get everything back and work all angles of the court, so it’s one of those matches where Kontaveit is going to have to redline everything and basically hope for the perfect match on her side of the court. That’s unlikely, so expect Halep to return to the semi-finals in Melbourne.