Simona Halep will attempt to continue shaking off the rust after a six-month hiatus as she faces Barbora Krejcikova in…
Simona Halep will attempt to continue shaking off the rust after a six-month hiatus as she faces Barbora Krejcikova in a bid to make the quarterfinals in Prague.
Halep vs Krejcikova is live from Prague on Thursday 13 August at 2pm local/1pm BST
World no. 2 Simona Halep narrowly survived her first match in six months when she edged past Polona Hercog in a third-set tie-break, extending her winning streak to five matches.
Halep continues her comeback to WTA Tour tennis as she takes on local favourite Barbora Krejcikova at the Prague Open on Thursday.
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
How to watch Halep vs Krejcikova live
Prague Open matches including Simona Halep vs Barbora Krejcikova are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.
Halep vs Krejcikova: Head-to-head
Halep leads the head-to-head 1-0 after beating Krejcikova on clay in Bucharest in 2016 – but she had to come back from a set down to do so, winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Halep vs Krejcikova: Preview
Despite six months out of competition, not knowing when the sport would return, Halep picked up right where she left off when she played her first match since February at the Prague Open on Tuesday.
Her last match before the WTA Tour shut down due to the global health crisis was a victory over Elena Rybakina, sealed in a third-set tie-break, to claim the 20th WTA title of her career in Dubai; on Tuesday, a third-set tie-break was needed once again to separate the Romanian from her opponent.
Halep initially looked like she had never been away as she breezed through the first set against Polona Hercog 6-1, but lost the second set by the same scoreline and had to tough out a decider which lasted longer than the first two sets put together. Even the best players have to contend with ring-rust and lack of match fitness, and Halep’s was evident, not so much in being pushed hard by Hercog – all three of their previous meetings had gone to three sets – but in the way her energy level dropped after winning the first set, and most of all in the way that she first failed to serve out the match, then let six match points slide on Hercog’s serve at 4-5 and 5-6.
Hercog hit an ace on the first unconverted match point, but the remaining five were pretty much all unforced errors by Halep, and had Hercog not faltered in the tie-break – she had lost her last 21 matches against top-10 players, and it showed – Halep might not have got over the line.
However, she did, and her winning streak is now at five matches with her last defeat coming in the Australian Open semifinals to Garbine Muguruza.
To make it six, Halep will have to get past wildcard Krejcikova, who recorded a surprisingly routine 6-4, 6-3 victory over Halep’s compatriot Patricia Maria Tig.
Four years younger than Halep, Krejcikova is something of a late bloomer and is the closest she has ever been to breaking into the top 100, reaching a career-high ranking of world no. 113 in February after qualifying for the Australian Open and reaching the second round. She recorded an excellent 2019 season, going 27-8 and winning four ITF titles, but played almost exclusively on clay.
Krejcikova’s career-best result came in Nurnberg in 2017 when she finished runner-up to Caroline Garcia at the WTA International after having come through qualifying. Since then, she has reached two WTA quarterfinals, both on clay.
It would be a mistake to completely discount Krejcikova, especially playing at home, and she did take a set from Halep in Bucharest in 2016 (Halep went on to win the tournament and double-bagelled Anastasija Sevastova in the final). Three of her five matches against top-20 players have gone the distance, and Halep is clearly rusty. The world no. 2 could well be pushed to three sets once more.