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Halep vs Svitolina tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Who will seize the chance to make their first Wimbledon final?

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 10 Jul 2019
  • Simona Halep faces Elina Svitolina in the semifinals of Wimbledon 2019
  • Halep vs Svitolina is live from Wimbledon on Thursday at 1pm BST
Simona Halep (PA Sports)

Elina Svitolina leads the head-to-head but Simona Halep has greater experience when it comes to Grand Slam semifinals – who will prevail in what is sure to be a physical battle and claim a place in the Wimbledon final?

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A first Wimbledon final awaits for either Simona Halep or Elina Svitolina but who will take advantage of this opportunity?

Simona Halep (PA Sports)
For Halep, this is, if not well-trodden ground, then familiar territory. She has been to the semifinals of Wimbledon before, in 2014 when she lost to Eugenie Bouchard (the familiar Halep motif of a turned ankle in the first set played a role); and this is her seventh Grand Slam semifinal overall, with her most recent coming at the French Open last year, which of course she won. 

Halep is, in fact, on a three-match winning streak in Grand Slam semifinals, her last defeat at this level having come to Flavia Pennetta in the semifinals of the US Open. That defeat turned out to be a huge opportunity missed, with Serena Williams losing to Roberta Vinci; I’m not at all saying that the same thing is on the cards here, with Williams facing Barbora Strycova in the other semifinal, but it’s possible Halep learned a lesson from that US Open loss that she has brought to subsequent semifinals.

Still pursuing her first title of 2019, it was a slow start to the season for Halep, thanks to her back injury and a change of coaches, but it feels as if she has been gathering pace through the first six months of the year – and doing the same at Wimbledon, as well. Halep, for me, did not particularly impress against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round or in a three-set win over Mihaela Buzarnescu, which seemed to exemplify a pattern of losing focus in the second set that has been a feature of her season. But against Victoria Azarenka in the third round, she significantly lifted her level and has now won seven straight sets, smothering Coco Gauff in the fourth round and pulling off a comeback win against Zhang Shuai in the quarterfinals.

That might have been the most impressive of Halep’s victories so far; an opponent who had beaten her on their previous two meetings, who was striking the ball deep and flat and frankly bullying her to take a 4-1 lead in the first set. Many times we’ve seen Halep, when rocked back on her heels, go into her shell and let things fall apart very quickly (she did much the same thing against Amanda Anisimova in the quarterfinals of the French Open). But this was not what she did on Tuesday. Instead, Halep saved four break points in a marathon eight-deuce game that turned out to be the match’s real turning point, but only because she kicked on from that to break Zhang back, hold from 30-30 and continuously bounce back from having mini-breaks erased in the tie-break to eventually edge it. 

Halep’s insistence on continuing to go for her shots in that first-set tie-break was, for me, the brightest aspect of her performance, and she kept it up right till the finish line to close out Zhang 7-6(4), 6-1.

That’s a good thing for Romanian fans, because being able to do that will be absolutely crucial when it comes to facing Elina Svitolina.

This is completely uncharted territory for Svitolina, who after reaching four Grand Slam quarterfinals and falling short has finally reached a major semifinal – and it’s also fairly unexpected that it came at Wimbledon, and at this Wimbledon especially. Firstly, Svitolina has never seemed as comfortable on grass as on other surfaces – all four of her major quarterfinals came at the French or Australian Opens – and secondly and more significantly, she came in to Wimbledon having lost six of her last seven matches in the wake of a knee injury earlier in the season.

Elina Svitolina (PA Sports)
Like Halep, Svitolina seems to have been getting better with each match, but she’s also been dodging a lot of bullets. Against Margarita Gasparyan in the second round, Svitolina was being given everything she could handle by the Russian, who had beaten her in Birmingham and was battling towards doing so again, leading by a set and locked on serve late in the second set after she had been up a break, when Gasparyan retired due to injury. In the third set round she had to survive a second-set comeback from Maria Sakkari and in the last 16, she was again getting worked very hard by Petra Martic before a back injury started to tell on the Croatian. And in the quarterfinals, Svitolina trailed 2-5 before coming back to beat Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-4 as the talented Czech’s long last match against Karolina Pliskova, which ended 13-11 in the third set on Monday, really told on her.

Svitolina did do well to make it a very physical contest, of course, and she played great tennis. And sometimes, dealing with adversity and being adaptable, flexible and resilient can stand you in better stead by the time you get to the closing stages of a tournament. But I think Svitolina has also benefited – she said so herself – from being under the radar at this tournament. In the Wimbledon semifinals, she’ll be stepping into the spotlight.

Svitolina does lead the head-to-head, however. They faced off in the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2017 – their only Grand Slam meeting so far – when Svitolina had a commanding lead, but crumpled and ended up losing in three, being bagelled in the final set; after that, the Ukrainian vengefully won the next three they played, a streak that only ended when Halep beat Svitolina in three sets in Doha in February. 

Certainly, for a while at least, Svitolina found it relatively easy to dictate play and be more aggressive when they faced off. Halep managed to turn that around on the hard courts of Doha, though, and from what I’ve seen of both women this fortnight, it’s Halep who is playing the better, more incisive tennis. Svitolina has been living on borrowed time to some extent, and I think Halep is actually the better mover on this surface, as well as being seemingly well-prepared for a physical battle after playing fewer sets this fortnight. It might take three sets, but I think it’s Halep who is going to seize this opportunity to reach a first Wimbledon final.

Halep vs Svitolina tennis is live from Wimbledon on Thursday at 1pm BST 

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Halep vs Svitolina tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Who will seize the chance to make their first Wimbledon final?

Simona Halep vs Elina Svitolina live streaming, preview and predictions for the Wimbledon women’s semifinal match on Thursday 11 July: Svitolina leads the head-to-head but Halep has played the better tennis this fortnight

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