The World No.1 Simona Halep is back enjoying her tennis and it is showing in her performances on the court. There was a spell where it felt like she fell out of love for the game, but now she is determined to get that major win that has eluded her to this point. She faces Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinal, who is another player that momentarily held the World No.1 ranking in 2017.
Halep leads the head-to-head by 5-1 and I think that is partly down to her ability to override the onslaught that comes from Pliskova’s racquet. She is able to get her opponent dancing to her tune by finding each corner of the court consistently, which prevents the harder hitter from really taking the match out of the Romanian’s hands. Pliskova may have the bigger serve and the bigger groundstrokes, but the tables are firmly turned when Halep extends the rallies.
Prediction: Halep in three sets
Madison Keys  vs Angelique Kerber  H2H: Kerber leads 6-1
Madison Keysand Angelique Kerber have played some absolute classic matches over the years. Some of them have been in big WTA finals, but this matchup always seems to bring the best out of them. It is a battle between the big ball striker of the American against the German, who throws everything into each and every point. No ball is ever unreachable when it comes to the former World No.1.
Keys has looked very good and has barely dropped games at this event, but Kerber is showing signs of the tennis that brought her to two Grand Slam titles in 2016 and helped her claim that World No.1 ranking. I think Keys will give a good account of herself, but Kerber is hard to stop when she is in this sort of mood.
Elise Mertens vs Elina Svitolina  H2H: Svitolina leads 1-0
Two players that have won a lot of matches in the last twelve months is Elise Mertens and Elina Svitolina. Mertens has been one of the game’s biggest risers in terms of ranking. This time last year she had just broken into the World’s Top 100 and now she will rise into the Top 30 for the first time after this tournament.
Mertens has lost just one singles match so far in this calendar year, while Svitolina is undefeated after winning the Brisbane title. Both are high on confidence and would give themselves a decent shot at going even further at the Australian Open.
I think I’ll slightly lean towards the Ukrainian. Mertens has really been getting through a lot of her matches while looking really, really tired. There have been a lot of momentum changes in her matches. More than usual, but I think Svitolina will be too mentally strong and at a completely different level when these two face in the quarterfinal.
Caroline Wozniacki has said in the buildup to this match that she is playing with house money after that win against Jana Fett in the second round, where she survived match points to win. Carla Suarez Navarro may be feeling the same way as she escaped with a victory against Anett Kontaveit in the previous round. A very big confidence building win for the Spaniard.
It is a contest between the less aggressive players on tour, although I do expect Wozniacki to win a lot of her points with her much stronger backhand side.
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