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Halep vs Swiatek French Open tennis preview, head-to-head and predictions

Simona Halep dropped just one game when she faced Iga Swiatek at the same stage of the French Open in 2019 – can Swiatek do better this time around?

Halep vs Swiatek is live from Roland Garros on Sunday 4 October, 11am local/10am BST

Champion at Roland Garros in 2018, Simona Halep continues to look every inch the tournament favourite as she extended her winning streak to 17 matches, exacting revenge on Amanda Anisimova for a quarterfinal defeat at last year’s French Open by allowing the American teenager just a single game.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

In the round of 16 in 2019, it was Iga Swiatek who got just one game from Halep – now they meet again at the same stage. With 16 months’ worth of experience since that drubbing, will Swiatek do better in 2020?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Swiatek live

French Open matches including Simona Halep vs Iga Swiatek are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Halep vs Swiatek: Head-to-head

Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek have only played once – at last year’s French Open, when Halep won 6-1, 6-0.

Halep vs Swiatek: Preview

For the second round in a row, Simona Halep faces a teenager – and a player she first took on at last year’s French Open. Against Amanda Anisimova, who had fairly blasted Halep, then the defending champion, off the court 6-2, 6-4 in the 2019 quarterfinals, Halep made it clear that she is in a very different place in 2020. The match was as close as it was ever going to get in the second game, when Halep, having already broken on an Anisimova double fault, faced five break points to consolidate. She did, and never looked back from there, winning 6-0, 6-1 in 56 minutes.

There are two sides to this story: One is that Anisimova has been looking a little lost all season, and was not playing anywhere as near as well as she did in 2019; the other is that Halep changed her tactics, approached the match in a completely different way, and stayed close to the baseline, playing aggressive, looking to crowd and outmaneouvre the tall American. It worked, and Halep continues to look the French Open favourite she’s been anointed: Energised, fit and seemingly relaxed and confident, not labouring under the burden of expectation which was on her shoulders as defending champion.

Iga Swiatek (AAP Image/Michael Dodge)

This is not great news for Iga Swiatek, who only got one game from Halep last year. But then, Swiatek was facing a top-10 player for the first time then, having her first deep run at a Grand Slam, ranked world no. 104 after a run to the WTA Lugano final. In the seven events she played in the remainder of 2019, she got wins over Caroline Wozniacki, Caroline Garcia; in January, she reached the last 16 of the Australian Open for the first time, beating Donna Vekic and very narrowly losing to Anett Kontaveit in a fantastic three-set battle; she made the third round of the US Open. So far at Roland Garros, she’s beaten 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, the very tricky Su-Wei Hsieh, and unleashed a storm of winners on former semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard.

Swiatek, still just 19 and only two years removed from winning the junior Wimbledon title, is a really talented young player but does she have it in her to beat Halep on Sunday? It’s not impossible. Swiatek’s strength is that she has a lot of ways to win points – she can unleash power when it’s required, but also has a devastating line in drop shots, will attack the net, has plenty of variety. I’m not sure, however, that her serve is stable enough, or that she has the tactical clarity, to beat a player who will smother her with depth from the baseline and who blends the ability to hit deep with the capacity to keep unforced errors down. I think it will be a lot closer than last year’s encounter – I can even see Swiatek taking a set – but Halep just seems so hard to beat right now.

Halep vs Swiatek: Prediction

Proven Roland Garros champions Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza are the favourites but does the draw support their French Open chances?

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina lead the draw at the 2020 French Open.

French Open 2020: Preview

With players enclosed in a bio-security bubble, only 1,000 spectators allowed per day and the tournament rescheduled from sunny June to chilly, damp October, the 2020 French Open will be unlike any other edition of the Grand Slam in its history.

Naomi Osaka triumphed at the US Open under its own unusual conditions, but Osaka, along with defending champion Ashleigh Barty, is one of the absentees from the French Open. Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu are also not playing.

That doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of contenders for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. Former winners Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams are all among the favourites to regain the trophy. On the other hand, the French Open has seen six first-time major winners on the women’s side in the past decade. Could there be a seventh in 2020?

French Open Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Simona Halep (1) vs Kiki Bertens (5)
Tournament favourite Halep comes in on glittering form, having won her last 14 matches – ten of them on clay as she captured the Prague Open and Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome – and with a 28-9 record at Roland Garros, having made the quarterfinals or better for the past three years.

But the draw immediately threw up some potential obstacles for Halep. Jil Teichmann, the rising Swiss player, was helpfully taken out by Irina-Camelia Begu, against whom Halep is 7-0. More concerningly, Amanda Anisimova, who blasted Halep off the court in straight sets in last year’s quarterfinals, was her projected third-round opponent.

In the end, Halep rose to the occasion in tremendous style. Nineteen-year-old Anisimova has looked a bit lost this season, but the top seed gave her no opportunity to find her feet, trouncing her 6-0, 6-1.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 runner-up, was projected to await in the round of 16 and had beaten Halep in both their previous meetings, but the Czech was an early casualty of talented young Pole Iga Swiatek in the first round. Swiatek went on to beat Su-Wei Hsieh and Eugenie Bouchard, the former top-10 player and French Open semifinalist, in the draw as a wildcard. Halep and Swiatek will meet in the last 16, a rematch of last year’s encounter at the same stage which Halep won 6-1, 6-0.

The 2019 semifinalist Johanna Konta went out to Coco Gauff in the first round, while fifth seed Kiki Bertens is not really a strong Grand Slam performer despite her clay-court prowess and retired in Strasbourg due to an Achilles injury. Full-body cramps saw the Dutch player wheelchaired off the court after a marathon battle against Sara Errani in the second round, but she returned rejuvenated two days later to record a very solid victory over Katerina Siniakova. Bertens now looks a much likelier quarterfinalist as she will face either Maria Sakkari or Martina Trevisan, who eliminated Coco Gauff.

Halep is playing too well at the moment not to pick her to come through to the semifinals, but Bertens is emerging as a potential threat: Their head-to-head is 3-3, with Bertens actually leading 2-1 on clay courts.

Predicted semifinalist: Halep (6/5 @ SkyBet to win her quarter)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Elina Svitolina (5) vs Serena Williams (6)
Svitolina only returned to competition in Rome, where she made the quarterfinals, and won the Strasbourg title the week before Roland Garros. A two-time French Open quarterfinalist, and twice a Grand Slam semifinalist in 2019, Svitolina’s tennis hasn’t been too inspiring so far – she was patchy in being dragged to three by Renata Zarazua in the second round – but she was up to the challenge of beating Ekaterina Alexandrova, more formidable on hard courts than clay, in the third.

Svitolina has lost her last three matches against Caroline Garcia – will she be in trouble when they meet in the fourth round? Garcia ousted Australian Open quarterfinalist Anett Kontaveit in the first round and then tricky Aliaksandra Sasnovich to set up a third-round clash with Elise Mertens. Mertens came in on nice form, and crushed Garcia in the first set, but spurred on by an enthusiastic if small Philippe-Chatrier crowd, Garcia came back to win in three dramatic sets. Just about nobody picked Garcia to make the quarterfinals in Paris for a second time, but she now looks nicely poised to do so – and perhaps go even further.

The bottom half of this section was blown wide open on Wednesday by the withdrawal of Serena Williams due to a left Achilles injury and the defeat of Victoria Azarenka at the hands of Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who also beat Venus Williams. Now qualifier Nadia Podoroska or Barbora Krejcikova, the unseeded Czech better known as a doubles player up until this point, will be in the quarterfinals awaiting Svitolina or Garcia.

Predicted semifinalist: Svitolina (8/5 @ 888Sport to win her quarter)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Aryna Sabalenka (8) vs Sofia Kenin (4)
Clay is not Sabalenka’s best surface and I don’t think these conditions will be a good match for her, but the powerful Belarusian has fought her way into the third round past Daria Kasatkina, a former quarterfinalist showing flickers of resurgence. Ons Jabeur should end Sabalenka’s run, with her unorthodox, crafty tennis.

Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion who made the Australian Open final in January, was a popular pick coming in, but her draw is unpleasant. Her opening opponent Tamara Zidansek is a good clay-courter, and ended up pushing Muguruza the distance – the Spaniard had to dig out a win from 0-3 down in the decider. Muguruza was able to keep things simpler in a straight-sets win over Kristyna Pliskova, but third-round opponent Danielle Collins can cause top players all sorts of problems even if clay isn’t her preferred surface.

Garbine Muguruza (Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

Should Muguruza power her way through that lot, she’s likely got to contend with Jabeur and then perhaps Sofia Kenin in the quarterfinals. Kenin beat Muguruza at the Australian Open, she beat Serena Williams at this tournament last year; she lost her only warm-up match 0-6, 0-6 to Azarenka in Rome, but she got past Liudmilla Samsonova, who has been playing well, in R1 and she’s got a nice draw to play her way in. The other potential threat is Fiona Ferro, the Palermo Open champion, who has looked ominous over the summer and took out 14th seed Elena Rybakina. Ferro will face Istanbul champion Patricia Maria Tig with the winner likely to face Kenin.

Muguruza had injury concerns in Rome, but in six years she’s not failed to reach the last 16; she’s 0-2 vs Kenin, but they have never played on clay. Despite a tough draw the 2016 champion still looks like the player to beat in these damp conditions.

Predicted semifinalist: Muguruza (13/8 @ SkyBet to win her quarter)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Petra Kvitova (7) vs Karolina Pliskova (2)
Second seed Pliskova is a former French Open semifinalist and played well in Rome to reach the final, only to be sidelined by injury and have to retire against Halep. Injury, however, had nothing to do with a straight-sets defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in the second round which has left Ostapenko looking very much like a force to be reckoned with in this tournament once more.

Champion in Paris in 2017 when she blasted her way to the title, Ostapenko showcased a much more well-rounded game in her upset of Pliskova and has avoided having to take on former finalist Sloane Stephens in the third, with the American going out to Paula Badosa.

Should Ostapenko beat Badosa, she will face Petra Martic or Laura Siegemund, both finesse players who can’t match Ostapenko’s power but could disrupt her game – that’s a tough ask for the Latvian to come through that match.

Petra Kvitova was a French Open semifinalist in 2012 but has made the second week just once since then. She hasn’t dropped a set in the first two rounds, and faces 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez, a fellow lefty, in the third round. Should Kvitova make it back to the round of 16 at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, she is likely to face the experienced Zhang Shuai. Zhang knocked out Madison Keys in the first round and then Alize Cornet, and faces wildcard Clara Burel – who knocked out the talented Kaja Juvan, who had ousted Angelique Kerber – in the last 32. Kvitova lost her only previous clay-court match against Zhang.

Semifinalist: Martic (9/2 @ Paddy Power to win her quarter)

French Open 2020: Prediction

Semifinals:

Halep d. Svitolina
Muguruza d. Martic

Final:

Halep d. Muguruza

French Open favourite Simona Halep faces a stern test against Amanda Anisimova, who ended her title defense in 2019.

Halep vs Anisimova is live from Roland Garros on Friday 2 October, 1pm local/12pm BST

Simona Halep was the consensus favourite to win a second French Open title in 2020 and her chances have only been boosted by the exits of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, who were among her potential semifinal opponents. But Amanda Anisimova, her third-round opponent, could pose a serious threat to the Romanian’s title ambitions.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

Anisimova defeated Halep in straight sets in last year’s quarterfinals, ending Halep’s defense of the Roland Garros title she won in 2018. The young American has looked a little lost recently but knows how to beat Halep – can she do it again?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Anisimova live

French Open matches including Simona Halep vs Amanda Anisimova are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Halep vs Anisimova: Head-to-head

Amanda Anisimova beat Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4 in their only previous match, in the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2019.

Halep vs Anisimova: Preview

Will it be revenge for Halep – or a reprise of last year’s result? Things are looking better and better for the top seed in terms of the draw – she doesn’t have to face Marketa Vondrousova or Su-Wei Hsieh in the fourth round; projected quarterfinal opponent Kiki Bertens is really struggling physically; no Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. But to take advantage of all of that, she has to find a way past Anisimova.

At last year’s French Open, Halep was obviously burdened by being defending champion; that was obvious by the way she played once that burden was lifted, tearing through the Wimbledon draw to become champion there. In 2020, the Romanian has seemed in a much happier and more mentally stable place, both before and after the sport’s shutdown allowed her to spend an unprecedentedly long time at home. It’s showed in her results: Halep is, lest we forget, 22-2 in 2020 and on a 16-match winning streak coming into this Roland Garros clash.

Amanda Anisimova (Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

Anisimova, on the other hand, is in a more ambiguous position. At the time of last year’s French Open she was racing up the rankings, blazing a trail, happy to have a go at hitting anybody off the court – and more often than not succeeding, dishing out that treatment to Aryna Sabalenka in Melbourne and Paris and then Halep too. She narrowly missed out on reaching her first Grand Slam final at that French Open, just losing out to Ashleigh Barty; but she would only play five more events in 2019, partly because of the sudden death of her father before the US Open.

Anisimova started off 2020 well with a semifinal run in Auckland but was trounced 1-6, 1-6 by Serena Williams and ever since then she’s seemed to be floundering a little, which is not to say that she’s had poor results particularly – she hasn’t been losing to poor players – just that she’s looked a little lost on court. This is not very surprising in a player who is still so young, only turning in 21 in August.

Should Anisimova turn up and play the way that she did in the quarterfinal in 2019, she would take a set, but I think Halep would still find a way to win the match, because the Romanian is performing at a much higher level: Looking unburdened, fit, and hungry for competition. Anisimova has the power, but not the tactical clarity, whereas Halep knows exactly what she wants to do on the court. I think she can find ways to smother Anisimova with depth, open up the court and pressure errors off the American.

Halep vs Anisimova: Prediction

French Open favourite Simona Halep aims to preserve her perfect record against compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu as they clash for a place in the third round at Roland Garros.

Halep vs Begu is live from Roland Garros on Wednesday 30 September, 3pm local/2pm BST

On a 15-match winning streak after beating Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round, Simona Halep is both unbeaten on clay in 2020 and unbeaten against her second-round opponent and fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

Halep, a strong favourite to reclaim the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen this fortnight, will be aiming to lead the way into the third round in Paris as she plays her first match outside Court Philippe-Chatrier on Wednesday.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Begu live

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Halep vs Begu: Head-to-head

Simona Halep leads the head-to-head with Irina-Camelia Begu 7-0, and has won 13 of the 14 completed sets they have played against each other.

Halep vs Begu: Preview

It’s already been a good French Open for the Romanian women, with Irina Bara and Patricia Maria Tig into the second round at the time of writing alongside Begu and the nation’s standard-bearer, Halep.

Expectations for the 2018 French Open champion could not be much higher as she returns to a tournament where she has made the final four times. Having been denied the chance to defend her Wimbledon title, Halep picked up where she left off with a strong start to the season – a run to the Australian Open semifinal followed by winning the title in Dubai – post-shutdown, confining her activities to clay and reaping the rewards as she won the Prague Open and then the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, a title which had eluded her despite reaching the final on two previous occasions.

Karolina Pliskova retired in that final, but wins over Dayana Yastremska and Garbine Muguruza underlined how well Halep is playing right now and emphasized her favourite status heading into Roland Garros.

The conditions this year at this unusual autumnal edition of the French Open are slow, cold and heavy, but Halep didn’t seem bothered by them in the least as she recorded a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo – no slouch on clay at all – to begin her campaign.

Halep also received a bit of a boost from other results, with projected fourth-round opponent Marketa Vondrousova – the 2019 finalist, who had won her two previous encounters with Halep – ousted by Iga Swiatek and Begu putting out Jil Teichmann, not a player who had beaten Halep in the past but an in-form one who was an unknown quantity.

Irina-Camelia Begu (PA Images)

Begu is the opposite for Halep, who has beaten her compatriot seven times, six in straight sets and four times on clay, including in Prague in August when Halep won 7-6(2), 6-3 in the semifinals.

With a 236-121 career record on clay, compared to 145-137 on hard courts, Begu is much more formidable on this surface than any other and was ranked as high as world no. 22 in 2016, largely as a result of reaching the quarterfinals of Madrid and the semifinals of Rome. She has beaten Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko on clay, and made the round of 16 at the French Open in 2016; she has also reached the third round three times, most recently in 2018-19. So she is a classy opponent on clay, but she has never been able to really threaten Halep on it. Halep won their clash in Prague by 13 games to 9; something similar looks likely at the French Open on Wednesday.

Halep vs Begu: Prediction

Defending champion Karolina Pliskova meets top seed Simona Halep in an enthralling Internazionali BNL d’Italia final on Monday.

Halep vs Pliskova is live from Rome on Monday 21 September, 2.30pm local/1.30pm BST

Will it be third time lucky for Simona Halep? A hard-fought win over Garbine Muguruza put the world no. 2 into the WTA Rome final once again, and for the first time, she won’t be facing Elina Svitolina there.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream WTA Rome matches live

Karolina Pliskova is looking to follow in Svitolina’s footsteps and boost her confidence ahead of the French Open by capturing back-to-back Internazionali BNL d’Italia titles – can she power past Halep in Monday’s final?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Pliskova live

WTA Rome matches including Simona Halep vs Karolina Pliskova are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Halep vs Pliskova: Head-to-head

Simona Halep leads the head-to-head with Karolina Pliskova 7-4, but has lost their last two encounters.

On clay, the head-to-head is 1-1, with Halep winning in three sets at the French Open in 2017 and Pliskova winning in Madrid in 2018.

Halep vs Pliskova: Preview

It’s hard to imagine a better curtain-raiser for the women’s French Open than the WTA side of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia this week, and the final should be a fitting denouement as top seed and French Open favourite Halep takes on defending champion Pliskova.

Halep hadn’t been pushed too hard in Rome this week and progressed to the semifinals via Yulia Putintseva’s retirement, but she was always going to have to work hard in a bruising semifinal clash against Garbine Muguruza on Sunday and so it proved. In a battle of French Open champions and a rematch of January’s Australian Open semifinal, Halep preserved her perfect record against Muguruza on clay, but not without a fight. The world no. 2 dominated the opening set and led 4-2 in the second, but Muguruza, struggling physically after lengthy matches against Coco Gauff and Victoria Azarenka, shortened the points and began going for broke on her shots, reeling off four straight games to level. The third set was the match in miniature, with a dominant Halep building a 5-1 lead, only for Muguruza to break twice to get back to 4-5; two double faults from the struggling Spaniard, however, saw Halep wrap up a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

Karolina Pliskova (Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse – PA Images)

Pliskova had had her own three-set battle against Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals, but kept things under control in an all-Czech semifinal clash with Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up. Pliskova blasted through the opening set with her trademark power, but had to recover a break at the beginning of the second set before squandering a 4-1 lead to be pegged back to 4-4. The crucial game at 4-4 saw the world no. 4 save break point before breaking for a 6-1, 6-4 win.

Pliskova’s win took only 83 minutes, giving her something of a physical advantage over Halep on Sunday, but it shouldn’t be a big factor with Halep not dropping a set coming into the semifinals.

Pliskova has had the best of the rivalry in recent times, winning three of the past four meetings including their most recent clay encounter, but it’s difficult to point to a big reason why this should be as each of those matches was very different. As Halep has worked to make her game more aggressive, she’s got a tendency to make more unforced errors, slightly changing the dynamic which is fundamentally one of counterpuncher against first-strike player. But that by no means suggests that she can’t beat Pliskova on her day.

Both women have been playing really brilliant tennis this week, so it’s a promising final. For me, Halep is still the superior clay-court player, and she’s won their only match which took place in conditions remotely similar; for that reason, I’m backing the two-time Rome runner-up to finally get her hands on the trophy.

Halep vs Pliskova: Prediction

In a battle of French Open champions, can Garbine Muguruza get her first win on clay over Simona Halep and reach the Rome final to boot?

Azarenka vs Muguruza is live from Rome on Saturday 19 September, 2pm local/1pm BST

World no. 2 Simona Halep is out to underline her status as favourite for the French Open by reaching the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the third time, and has yet to drop a set in Rome, reaching the semifinals when Yulia Putintseva retired trailing 2-6, 0-2.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Now on a 12-match winning streak, Halep faces the last woman to beat her, Garbine Muguruza, in a mesmerising semifinal clash. Muguruza leads the head-to-head but has never beaten Halep on a clay court.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Muguruza live

WTA Rome matches including Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Halep vs Muguruza: Head-to-head

Garbine Muguruza leads the head-to-head with Simona Halep 4-2, and won their most recent encounter 7-6(8), 7-5 in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

But Halep has won the only two matches the two have played on clay, beating Muguruza in Stuttgart in 2015 and 6-1, 6-4 at the French Open in 2018.

Halep vs Muguruza: Preview

It’s crazy to think that the last match Simona Halep lost was her semifinal clash with Garbine Muguruza at the Australian Open: A gruelling affair which lasted over two hours on a scorching hot day and saw Muguruza save four set points in the first set, then break Halep as she served to level the match, winning the last three games for a 7-6(8), 7-5 win.

Denied a place in the Australian Open final, Halep bounced back by winning her 20th and 21st career titles in Dubai and Prague on either side of the six-month shutdown enforced on tennis by the global pandemic. In addition to having won 12 straight matches, Halep has won her last 13 sets, beating Jasmine Paolini and Dayana Yastremska in straight sets in Rome before progressing to the semifinals when Yulia Putintseva retired trailing 2-6, 0-2, having seen her bright start to the match quickly disintegrate under the pressure of Halep’s assured shotmaking.

Halep went out to practice afterwards to try to make up for the limited time on court, which leaves her in an ambiguous position coming into the semifinals: On the one hand she has a definite energy advantage, but on the other, she’ll face a stiff rise in the level of competition she’s been up against when she takes the court against Muguruza.

Garbine Muguruza (Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse – PA Images)

In this clash of French Open and Wimbledon champions, Muguruza definitely arrives battle-hardened. Although she went out of the US Open early to the tricky Tsvetana Pironkova, the Spaniard has had a tough draw in Rome, beating Sloane Stephens and 2019 finalist Johanna Konta in straight sets and having to battle through three-set clashes with Coco Gauff and Victoria Azarenka.

Beating US Open finalist Azarenka has looked like a nearly impossible task of late, and the Belarusian came into the match having won 15 of her last 16 matches, but Muguruza proved herself equal to the challenge in a gruelling physical battle. Neither player had the momentum for long in an evenly-matched contest, with Muguruza leading 3-1 in the final set before nearly falling behind 3-5. While both players played attacking tennis whenever they were able, Muguruza defended brilliantly – something that’s a sign of her playing at or near her best – and was able to win, crucially, more points behind her second serve. That, and one more break of serve than Azarenka could muster, decided the 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 contest.

It only gets tougher, again, for Muguruza, though, as she tries to reach her first Rome final: A well-rested and seemingly fit Halep. Muguruza edged past Halep at the Australian Open with the aid of a slightly bigger serve, slightly more explosive shotmaking and, most importantly, attacking tennis at the biggest moments; those were all the elements which got Muguruza past Azarenka in the quarterfinals.

Halep vs Muguruza: Prediction

Simona Halep targets a fifth Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinal appearance as she takes on Yulia Putintseva in Rome.

Halep vs Putintseva is live from Rome on Saturday 19 September, 12pm local/11am BST

Now on an 11-match winning streak, Simona Halep has never lost a quarterfinal match at the Foro Italico, a record she looks to maintain as she takes on Yulia Putintseva on Saturday.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Halep is 17-2 in 2020 and won her only previous match against Putintseva in straight sets, but the feisty Kazakh is a two-time French Open quarterfinalist and a fiery opponent.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Putintseva live

WTA Rome matches including Simona Halep vs Yulia Putintseva are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Halep vs Putintseva: Head-to-head

Simona Halep and Yulia Putintseva have played once before, at the Australian Open in January when Halep won 6-1, 6-4.

Halep vs Putintseva: Preview

Top seed Simona Halep is the current favourite with oddsmakers to win the French Open, and the clay-loving Romanian looks set to bolster that status with a deep run in Rome. Halep has never won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but she’s made the final twice and the semifinals twice and has only failed to make the semifinals when reaching the last 16 once – in 2014, when she gave Carla Suarez Navarro a walkover.

In 2020, in so many ways, all bets are off, of course, but Halep started the season strong with an Australian Open semifinal run and a title in Dubai, and she has made it clear that clay is her focus on the WTA Tour’s resumption: A title in Prague, where she beat Elise Mertens in the final, means that she brought a nine-match winning streak into Rome.

That streak has now been extended to 11 straight wins after victories over Italian wildcard Jasmine Paolini and rising Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska.

Halep was broken to open by Paolini before winning 6-3, 6-4, and she trailed Yastremska 0-3 in the first set as well before turning things around. In both cases, it was the power off the ground which rocked Halep back on her heels in the early stages, but once she found her rhythm, she never looked back. Swiftly getting back on serve against Yastremska, she pounced on her opportunity when Yastremska struggled on serve at 5-5 to break. It was the first of five straight games won by Halep that would see her lead 7-5, 3-0, and although Yastremska did get one break back, Halep closed out a 7-5, 6-4 win thanks to her insurance break.

Halep has now won 12 straight sets since dropping the first to Barbora Krejcikova in the second round of Prague, and she will be clearly favoured in this quarterfinal clash with Putintseva.

Yulia Putintseva is a two-time French Open quarterfinalist (PA Images)

The Kazakh made the quarterfinals of the French Open in 2016 and 2018, and made the third Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career at the US Open over the last fortnight, where she beat tenth seed Petra Martic before falling to Jennifer Brady. Martic, also seeded eighth in Rome, once again fell to Putintseva in three sets, as did Elena Rybakina despite serving for the match. It’s not surprising. Putintseva, not the tallest or most physically imposing player, is an excellent defender and counter-puncher who has been working hard to add more of a transition game to her arsenal; and if you can’t outgun Putintseva with sheer power, as Brady did, you had better be prepared to run a lot.

Halep is always prepared to run a lot. She and Putintseva share a fundamentally counterpunching game, but Halep is much, much better at consistently hitting through her forehand using it to dictate, and at making her way forward to finish points in the forecourt. Their Australian Open match saw Halep’s serve dominating in the first set before a much more even second; on clay, it feels like a tight two sets or possibly even three, but a victory for Halep.

Halep vs Putintseva: Prediction

Two-time Rome runner-up Simona Halep takes on rising Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska for the first time.

Halep vs Yastremska is live from Rome on Friday 18 September, 1pm local/12pm BST

World no. 2 Simona Halep brings a ten-match winning streak, maintained on either side of the six-month ATP and WTA shutdown, into a third-round clash with Dayana Yastremska at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Friday.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Halep is looking to find her top form ahead of the French Open as she takes on Yastremska, the 20-year-old who won her first WTA clay-court title in Strasbourg last summer, for a place in the quarterfinals.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Halep vs Yastremska live

WTA Rome matches including Simona Halep vs Dayana Yastremska are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

1. Click here to go to bet365
2. Sign in or open an account and deposit £5 or more
3. Go to tennis > WTA Rome > Halep vs Yastremska

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Halep vs Yastremska: Head-to-head

Simona Halep and Dayana Yastremska have never played before.

Halep vs Yastremska: Preview

Simona Halep continued her strong form as she defeated Jasmine Paolini to get off to a winning start at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where all indications are that the Romanian will be tough to beat.

Although she suffered a surprise defeat to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome last year, Halep otherwise has an excellent record, reaching the final in 2017-18 and the semifinals in 2013 and 2015. The 2018 French Open champion is also an impressive 16-2 in 2020, with her only defeats so far coming to Aryna Sabalenka in Adelaide and Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals of the Australian Open in January. Since then, Halep has won the 20th title of her career in Dubai and, returning from the six-month shutdown, the 21st of her career in Prague, where she beat Elise Mertens in the final.

Halep came back from an early break down against Paolini, the Italian wildcard ranked just inside the top 100 at the moment, breaking Paoloni’s serve eight times although she surrendered her own five times. The top seed profited from seven double faults from her opponent, but served solidly herself and altogether made a very decent start to her Rome campaign.

Dayana Yastremska has won three WTA International titles (Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse 14/09/2020)

It’s also fortunate for Halep that she doesn’t have to face Amanda Anisimova, who blew her off the court in last year’s French Open, although Yastremska is also a dangerous opponent.

Yet to become a big name, although surely not far from it, 20-year-old Yastremska won three WTA Tour International-level titles in 2018-19 and made the fourth round of Wimbledon last year. She rose to a career-high world no. 21 in January after finishing runner-up to Ashleigh Barty in Adelaide, having beaten Sabalenka and Angelique Kerber (via retirement), and picked up a win over Sofia Kenin on her way to the round of 16 in Dubai before the shutdown.

Yastremska won back-to-back matches in Palermo and ‘Cincinnati’ on her return to action, defeating Venus Williams at the latter in a three-set thriller, but suffered an early defeat to Madison Brengle at the US Open. Both her matches in Rome so far have gone the distance, with Yastremska overcoming two very different power players in Anisimova and Camila Giorgi to make the last 16.

That’s not great preparation for facing Halep, against whom careful point construction is much more of a necessity even for power players because of her superb defense and ability to absorb and redirect pace. Yastremska is 2-9 vs top-10 players, with both those wins coming on hard courts; she’s an extremely feisty and attacking player, and I could absolutely see her taking a set from Halep on hard courts. On clay, I’m less certain of it.

Halep vs Yastremska: Prediction

Six of the WTA’s top 10 highlight an Internazionali BNL d’Italia draw which will be electric from the word go, with Victoria Azarenka vs Venus Williams among first-round clashes.

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as world no. 2 Simona Halep, defending champion Karolina Pliskova and two-time winner Elina Svitolina lead the field at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

WTA Rome Preview

Usually played in May but rescheduled to September in 2020, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia is among the most prestigious clay-court tournaments on the WTA Tour and is a key battleground ahead of the French Open.

Many of the top players who chose not to travel for the US Open will be playing the first big event of their comebacks to competition, including Halep, Svitolina and Belinda Bencic, while defending champion Pliskova, Sofia Kenin and Garbine Muguruza are among those looking to improve on early US Open exits.

WTA Rome Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Simona Halep is a two-time Rome runner-up (PA Images)

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Simona Halep (1) vs Petra Martic (8)
Halep has already picked up a title post-shutdown on clay in Prague, but elected not to travel to the USA.

A Rome finalist in 2017-18, Halep will open against Anastasija Sevastova – who is not in great form, and has lost her last five vs Halep – or Italian wildcard Jasmine Paolini; her third opponent will be one of a cluster of unpredictable power players, with big servers Donna Vekic and Amanda Anisimova facing off in the first round and Camila Giorgi or Dayana Yastremska awaiting the winner.

Martic did play the US Open, and could have a chance to avenge her fourth-round defeat in New York to Yulia Putintseva in the second round. Her projected third-round opponent is Elena Rybakina, who impressed so much in the early part of the year, but has yet to regain that form post-shutdown and will probably go out in the first round to Ekaterina Alexandrova, who leads their head-to-head 2-0. Alexandrova has never had particularly strong results on clay but she’s always a danger at the moment.

Predicted semifinalist: Halep

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Sofia Kenin (3) vs Johanna Konta (8)
Konta reached the Rome final and the French Open semifinals last year, proving (including to herself) that she could play on clay, but is having some mixed results at the moment. She could open against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, an Italian wildcard having some good wins recently, but it’s the third round where things get dangerous. Konta’s projected third-round opponent is Garbine Muguruza, who looked so resurgent when she made the Australian Open final but lost early at the US Open to Tsvetana Pironkova; Muguruza faces Sloane Stephens in the first round, with the winner to take on either Ons Jabeur or Coco Gauff.

Australian Open champion Kenin played well at the US Open before losing to Elise Mertens, but she’s got a tough draw: Her first opponent will be either Venus Williams or Victoria Azarenka, although the latter will surely pull out after reaching the US Open final. Angelique Kerber could await in the third round, although clay is probably Kerber’s worst surface. In a quarter full of inconsistent shotmakers, I trust counterpunching consistency.

Predicted semifinalist: Kenin

Elina Svitolina won back-to-back Internazionali BNL d’Italia titles in 2017-18 (PA Images)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Kiki Bertens (5) vs Elina Svitolina (4)
A quarterfinal between 2019 Madrid champion Bertens and two-time Rome winner Svitolina would be a real treat, but will we see it?
Svitolina is playing her first tournament since Monterrey in Rome, and she has a hell of a tough draw, with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova a probable opening opponent and Anett Kontaveit, who plays very well on clay, likely to await in the third round if she can get past former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second.

Bertens’s draw is not so tough – she’ll probably open against Polona Hercog and could face 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, who is really not on great form at the moment, in the third. I anticipate a powerhouse quarterfinal battle between Bertens and Kontaveit.

Predicted semifinalist: Bertens

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Belinda Bencic (6) vs Karolina Pliskova (2)
Defending Rome champion Pliskova was the only WTA top-10 player based in Europe to make the trip to the USA, and she was not well rewarded, going 1-2 in New York. Pliskova could face Veronika Kudermetova, who beat her in ‘Cincinnati’, as her first opponent and while Alison Riske, on clay, is not a very dangerous opponent, Jil Teichmann could be. Teichmann is 13-8 in 2020 and won two WTA clay titles in 2019.

Bencic, playing her first tournament since February, could face hard-hitting Julia Goerges in the second round – not an easy task – while Elise Mertens, who played very well at the US Open on her way to the quarterfinals, could be a real threat in this section if she’s able to bring that same form to clay.

Semifinalist: Mertens

WTA Internazionali BNL d’Italia Prediction

Semifinals:

Halep d. Kenin
Mertens d. Bertens

Final:

Halep d. Mertens

Simona Halep has pulled out of the US Open, becoming the sixth WTA Tour top-10 player to do so.

World no. 2 Simona Halep announced her decision not to play the 2020 US Open.

Six of the world’s top ten female players, including defending champion Bianca Andreescu and world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty, have now pulled out of the upcoming Grand Slam.

The US Open will be played behind closed doors in New York from 31 August-13 September, with players subject to health and safety protocols. The USA remains the nation hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 5 million confirmed cases and over 170,000 deaths. The state of New York alone has had over 32,000 deaths.

Halep wrote:

‘After weighing up all the factors involved and with the exceptional circumstances in which we are living, I have decided that I will not travel to New York to play the [US Open]

‘I always said I would put my health at the heart of my decision and I therefore prefer to stay and train in Europe. I know the USTA and WTA have worked tirelessly to put on a safe event and I wish everyone there a successful tournament.’

The reigning Wimbledon champion, Halep was unable to defend her title at the All-England Club when the tournament was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War. The Romanian has long sounded doubtful about the possibility of playing the US Open, and she has a record of being cautious when it comes to health issues: Halep pulled out of the Rio Olympics in 2016 due to concerns over the Zika virus, and just two weeks ago she withdrew from the Palermo Ladies Open citing a rise in COVID-19 cases in Romania and her ‘anxieties’ about international air travel.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming

Halep played her first tournament since tennis was shut down in early March at the Prague Open last week instead, and won the 21st title of her career there, defeating Elise Mertens in the final.

The Romanian is now 15-2 in 2020, and would be expected to return to action at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where she is a two-time finalist. The tournament begins on 14 September and will be followed by the French Open from 27 September.

Halep’s best result at the US Open came in 2015 when she reached the semifinals. She has won only one match on her last three appearances.

 

Halep joins world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty, defending champion Bianca Andreescu, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Belinda Bencic in pulling out of the US Open. Svitolina, Bertens and Bencic are all expected to play the European clay-court season, while Barty and Andreescu have yet to confirm.

Karolina Pliskova, who is the only top-10 WTA player based outside the USA to be travelling to New York, will be the top seed. She is joined by world no. 9 Serena Williams, the six-time US Open champion; 2018 winner Naomi Osaka; and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, all based in the USA. Three-time champion Kim Clijsters has taken a wildcard.

Williams played her first tournament since March at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky last week, losing in the quarterfinals to Shelby Rogers.

The projected top eight seeds for the US Open currently look like this (WTA ranking in brackets):

1. Karolina Pliskova (3)
2. Sofia Kenin (4)
3. Serena Williams (9)
4. Naomi Osaka (10)
5. Aryna Sabalenka (11)
6. Petra Kvitova (12)
7. Madison Keys (13)
8. Petra Martic (14)

On the men’s side, defending champion Rafael Nadal has pulled out, as has former winner Stan Wawrinka. Currently, seven of the top 10 are expected to play with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic leading the field. Andy Murray has taken a wildcard.