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Halep vs Vondrousova WTA Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Halep opens her bid for first Rome title against dangerous Vondrousova

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 16 May 2019
  • Simona Halep vs Marketa Vondrousova is live from Rome on Thursday, 15 May from 11:30am local time/ 10:30am BST
  • Halep fell to Vondrousova in their only previous meeting at Indian Wells
Simona Halep. (Photo: Cordon Press)

Simona Halep must quickly shake off the disappointment of her Madrid Open final defeat to Kiki Bertens as she takes on the dangerous Marketa Vondrousova in the second round of the Italian Open on Thursday. 

Simona Halep’s second-round match against Marketa Vondrousova was postponed from Wednesday to Thursday due to heavy rain. The winner will face Daria Kasatkina or Katerina Siniakova in the third round later on Thursday on Court Pietrangeli

Halep was pretty hard on herself after falling to Bertens in the Madrid final, criticizing her tactics during the 6-4 6-4 defeat. 

"I think I played wrong, and I'm upset about that. But I'm not going to make a drama. I'm just thinking for the next one, when I will play against her, to change some things”, Halep said. 

The Romanian had made the brighter start in that final, opening up a 4-2 lead, but she lost control of the match after that as Bertens went on a six-game run to open up a 6-4 2-0 lead. Halep pulled the second set back to 2-2, but she surrendered her serve in the next game to fall behind, and Bertens never relinquished that advantage, going on to become the first woman to win the Madrid title without dropping a set.

"I played like a stupid today, everything that she liked”, continued Halep. “But it's happening sometimes and I can take all the positives from this week".

Defeat in Madrid meant Halep not only missed out on claiming her first title since last August, but she also missed the chance to regain the world No. 1 ranking. She goes again in Rome, where she is also in with a shot at replacing Naomi Osaka at No. 1. Halep must win the Rome title and hope Osaka doesn't make the quarter finals to snatch the top-ranking, and gain the top seeding for Roland Garros. 

Problem is: Simona Halep has never won the Rome title. She has made the final in each of the last two seasons, losing to Elina Svitolina on both occasions, while she made semi-finals in 2013 and 2015.

Halep has now lost out in two finals in 2019, having also fallen at the last hurdle in Doha, where she was beaten by Elise Mertens. The world No. 2 was a semi-finalist at the Miami Open, while she made the quarter finals in Dubai, and the fourth round of the Australian Open. 23-7 isn't a bad return for the season, but the Romanian expects more from herself, and she's got another opportunity to end this title drought in Rome, where she opens against Marketa Vondrousova. 

Vondrousova is a very dangerous opponent, as she showed when she defeated Halep at Indian Wells earlier this season.

She has already shown her prowess on clay this year by reaching the Istanbul final, blasting through the draw without dropping a set before falling to Petra Martic in three in the championship match. 

Apart from a second round defeat to Martic (again) at the Australian Open, Vondrousova has not had one bad tournament in 2019, as she has made the quarter finals or better in the four tournaments she has played since Melbourne. She reached the final in Budapest (lost to Alison van Uytvanck), made the quarter finals at Indian Wells (beat Halep before falling to Elina Svitolina in three), quarter finals in Miami, and the aforementioned final in Istanbul. She did not play in Madrid, but she made a winning return to the tour in Rome, recovering from a first-set blow-out to oust fellow Czech, Barbora Strycova 1-6 6-4 7-6 in just over two and a half hours. 

Vondrousova first burst onto the mainstream in April 2017 when at 17, she won her first WTA title in Biel in just her second ever tour-level main draw appearance. She went on to finish that season at 67th in the world, and consolidated her position in 2018, making a semi-final in Gstaad and the fourth round at Indian Wells and the US Open. The Czech teenager ended the season at 68th after briefly breaking into the top 50 post Indian Wells. Vondrousova has climbed as high as 40th this season, and she enters Rome at 44th, with the chance to reach a new career-high ranking if she produces a decent week in her first appearance at the Foro Italico. 

The left-hander has got a formidable obstacle before her on Thursday, as she plays Simona Halep, arguably the best clay-court player currently on tour in the second round.

Vondrousova stunned Halep in three sets in their only previous meeting at Indian Wells earlier in the year, but the dynamics are very different this time around, with the clay courts of Rome likely to play a key role in the outcome of this contest. 

Vondrousova showed she can be dangerous on clay with her runner-up finish in Bogota, but this is a massive step up from whatever she faced in Colombia. Halep should have far much clay-court know-how for the young Czech on Thursday.

Simona Halep vs Marketa Vondrousova is live from Rome on Thursday, 15 May from 11:30am local time/ 1o:30am BST

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Halep vs Vondrousova WTA Rome Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Halep opens her bid for first Rome title against dangerous Vondrousova

Simona Halep begins her quest for a maiden Rome title on Thursday when she plays Marketa Vondrousova in the second round. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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