ROME, ITALY – In a rematch of the 2017 final, Simona Halep takes on defending champion Elina Svitolina after edging Maria Sharapova to reach the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final.
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Simona Halep  v Elina Svitolina  | H2H: Tied at 3-3
Last year it looked as though the stars had aligned for Simona Halep. She had successfully defended her Madrid title, and she looked well on the way to doing the Madrid and Rome double before an ankle roll helped turn the tide of the match.
Elina Svitolina, who had also claimed some impressive silverware in 2017 in Dubai earlier in the year, took full advantage to underline her Istanbul title as a contender on the clay court scene. It certainly paid off as the pair would meet again in 2017, this time in the Roland Garros quarter-final.
Both have been in decent form this year. Halep is in her third final of 2018 winning in Shenzhen and was the runner-up in the Austrian Open. Svitolina is aiming for her third title defence of her career, having recaptured the Dubai title this year, and winning Baku in 2012-2013.
Both have dropped just one set en route to the final. Halep had coasted into the semi-final with straight forward wins and a walkover, but was put to the test against Maria Sharapova, having to come from a set down to get just her second win over the Russian in nine meetings.
Svitolina’s third round encounter with Daria Kasatkina was her toughest, not even registering a game before fighting back and since then she has looked very solid.
Both will look to use their aggressive play to dictate points – Svitolina is solid from the baseline and has always been a consistent hitter with a fair bit of heft to them. Both move well and this looks to be an even match up against two of the best clay courters this season.
Perhaps the edge needs to go Halep. Her mental fortitude in coming back after confessing to coach Darren Cahill after losing that first set to Sharapova that she was struggling to serve, and that it was all in her head. However, she found a way to puzzle it out when it counted.
Last year it was injury rather than a formidable losing head to head that scuppered her chances, and you would have to give her the edge, but we can expect another battle because they have always gone the distance in their clay court encounters. Interestingly in both of their wins over each other, they dropped the first set and then went on to win.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
Halep and Svitolina are scheduled on Campo Centrale at 1pm (12pm BST).
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