A two-time major champion will have a chance to play for a third at the Australian Open when Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza face off in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Simona Halep ?? vs Garbine Muguruza ?? Match Info
Date: Thursday January 30
Tournament: Australian Open SF
Court: Rod Laver Arena
Time: 3.30pm local time (4.30am GMT)
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza Head-to-Head
Muguruza leads 3-2
2018 | French Open SF | Halep 6-1 6-4
2017 | Cincinnati final | Muguruza 6-1 6-0
2015 | Stuttgart R16 | Halep 3-6 6-1 6-3
2015 | Fed Cup R1 | Muguruza 6-4 6-3
2014 | Wuhan R32 | Muguruza 2-6 6-2 6-3
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza Match Preview
Halep will have to overturn a 0-3 record against Muguruza on hardcourt if she is to have another chance to play for the Australian Open title after finishing runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki in 2018.
It’s been a dominant fortnight in Melbourne so far for Halep, with the Romanian winning all of her matches in straight sets against Jennifer Brady, Harriet Dart, Yulia Putintseva, Elise Mertens and Anett Kontaveit.
Starting with a tricky opener against Brady in which she fell heavily on her wrist and almost dropped the opening set, Halep has improved considerably with every match, including her excellent quarter-final triumph over 28th seed Kontaveit on Wednesday. It was a near-flawless display from the two-time major champion, with Halep crushing the Estonian by a 6-1 6-1 scoreline in just 53 minutes, winning all of her points at net and saving the only break point she faced.
Rounding into top form at exactly the right time, Halep credited a more intense off-season in Adelaide with coach Darren Cahill for getting her in the best possible shape for the first Grand Slam of the year.
“I worked a little bit more in the off-season; first time in my life away from home so I could be focused on what I had to do every day with no days off. I’m feeling much stronger than before,” Halep said.
“We work hard on my attitude and game and I’m now a better person and a better player because of [Darren].”
Despite beating Serena Williams for the Wimbledon title last season, Halep didn’t have the most consistent season of her career, but she already looks far more solid after reuniting with Cahill.
As mentioned, she’s peaking at the right time and is just two wins from the title – but Halep will need to do something she’s never done before if she is to make a second Australian Open final, and that’s beat Muguruza on hardcourt.
After enduring an extremely tough couple of seasons in 2018 and 2019, Muguruza has started 2020 on fire, and after three big wins over two top 10 stars and an extremely in-form Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Venezuelan-born Spaniard appears set to swiftly regain her spot near the top of the rankings.
Arriving in Melbourne with an illness after withdrawing from the Hobart International, Muguruza lost the opening set of her first round against Shelby Rogers and looked like she was heading straight back to the airport. However, Muguruza managed to turn that match around, winning the next two sets 6-1 6-0, and after surviving a three-setter against Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets in the second round, she hasn’t dropped a set, crushing Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-2 and Kiki Bertens 6-3 6-3 for her first consecutive top 10 wins since 2017, before twice coming back from a break down in the first set against Pavlyuchenkova to close out the Russian by a 7-5 6-3 scoreline.
The more and more Muguruza keeps winning, the more and more she begins to look like the player who became the only player in history to beat both Williams sisters in a Grand Slam final, which is what she did in 2016 and 2017 at Roland Garros and Wimbledon respectively. Muguruza would go on to reach World No. 1 after also winning Cincinnati (where she demolished Halep for the loss of just one game in the final), but her relationship with coach Sam Sumyk (who has since moved on to Pavlyuchenkova, making that win even sweeter) seemed to derail her game, and she went on to drop outside the top 30 after two lean years.
But, Muguruza is back and firing on all cylinders in Melbourne – and when she’s playing like this, she’s almost unstoppable.
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza Prediction
The fact Halep is also operating at the peak of her powers means this should be a spectacular contest. It’s a classic contrast in styles – Halep will counterpunch and try and get everything back, while Muguruza will attempt to use her explosive firepower to hit through the Romanian. If both play their best at the same time, this could be the match of the tournament. I think this could go either way, but I’m going to lean with the more reliable Halep – she’s been in this position more in the last couple of years and the slow courts work in her favour.