Australian Open Preview – Simona Halep vs Serena Williams

Over the last few years battles between Simona Halep and Serena Williams have been a fascinating and must watch spectacle on the WTA Tour.

They first met back in 2011 at Wimbledon which was their last meeting too. Serena Williams on that occasion came from a set down to win in three. Simona made her mark on the rivalry in 2014 when she defeated Serena 6-2 6-0 in the round robin at the WTA Finals, a few days later in the final Serena repaid the favour winning 6-3 6-0 against the Romanian.

2015 in Miami was a highlight won by Serena as were close battles in New York, Melbourne in 2019 but their last meeting at Wimbledon in the 2019 final of course went the way of Simona Halep who took her game on the grass to an unbelievable level.

Despite over the years playing out these incredible matches there is huge respect between the two. Once her match against Iga Swiatek had come to an end, Jim Courier asked her about Serena and before he could finish his sentence she said:

“Legends, she’s the best”

Despite Serena leading the head to head 9-2 it doesn’t feel like it will be straight forward. The good news for both players is they have had a test coming in this quarter final.

Simona Halep has shown how she can react to going a set down twice against Alja Tomljanovic and Iga Swiatek. I was more impressed with how she changed things up against Iga taking the power and spin off the ball and might be the best way to see off Serena.

Serena did have a big battle against Aryna Sabalenka. The American has impressed throughout the tournament and some of her tennis especially defensively has been like watching her roll the clock back ten years it’s been magnificent. Not only the groundstrokes but she has served very well too, this competition is only going to get tougher and Halep brings that concern for Serena.

I go back to watching their battle at the 2019 Australian Open which Serena won in the fourth round in three sets. Halep reacted to the match but left it too late. The way she started to dictate from her forehand was fantastic to watch but it was few and fair between and a little late.

Australian Open 2019 – Simona Halep needs to stop giving out invitations and find her ruthless streak

In 2019 she sat the ball up too nicely for Serena, she finally found that ruthless streak for a small period of time and hit back behind the American with the forehand unsettling her footwork and finding some control.

6 months on at Wimbledon she was at it from the off. The tennis was phenomenal, she played into space and played behind Serena dominating the Wimbledon final where quite incredible just 3 of the 92 points in the final were unforced errors by Simona Halep.

On the run: The spectacular tennis of Simona Halep

It was an incredible milestone for Halep and some key experience call on but a result Serena will want to turn around with a place in the last four at stake.

image credit – Reuters

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