WTA Miami, Semi-Final Preview #2: Serena Williams v Simona Halep

Serena WilliamsEveryone strapped in for this?! Serena Williams and Simona Halep were set to meet in a highly anticipated semi-final match in Indian Wells, but a knee injury forced Serena to withdraw (see match preview HERE). Two weeks on and the prospect of Serena-Simona sits on our doorstep once more.  In fact, both semi-finals in Miami are repeats of walkovers in the last month where one player was forced to pull out pre-match due to injury.  Halep has had a magnificent two weeks, winning the title in Indian Wells and now reaching the semi-finals in Miami.  The Indian Wells-Miami double is one of the toughest feats to achieve in tennis, but Halep is powering through with both momentum and confidence.  In her quarter-final match, she defeated Sloane Stephens, 6-1 7-5.  She had a little hiccup in the second set, having led by a break, but recovered to prevail in straight sets.

Serena recovered from an almighty second set wobble to defeat Sabine Lisicki in three sets, 7-6(4) 1-6 6-3 in two hours and one minute.  Serena saved a set point in the first set and then was the more steady player in the tiebreak; she produced a majestic defensive sliced backhand towards the end of the breaker to effectively seal it.  However, it all came tumbling down for Serena in the second set as she hit an avalanche of errors (17 to be precise) to lose six straight games.  Serena recovered in the decider and found her intensity again, breaking in Sabine’s first service game and riding it home for her 700th career match win.  A word for Lisicki, who really impressed me in this match.  She found a nice balance from the baseline, not going for too much, but enough power to unsettle Serena at times.  She also changed up the rhythm a few times with some variety which was nice to see.  I’m really hopeful Sabine can carry this form into the clay court season.

Serena and Simona last played at the WTA Championships in Singapore at the end of 2014; in two one-sided affairs, Halep stunned Williams with a 6-0 6-2 win in round robin action, but the world number one turned the tables in the final with a 6-3 6-0 win.  Both players are having terrific years so far; Halep is on a 14-match winning streak that has seen her win titles in Dubai and Indian Wells, while Williams hasn’t technically lost a WTA match this year.  Williams has won all 15 WTA matches that she has played in 2015.  Halep comes in with a great deal of confidence although she is likely to be the more fatigued of the pair.  Serena didn’t play a clean match against Lisicki, but she has the ability to switch on/off like a lightbulb from match-to-match.  The loss in Singapore was a pretty monumental one for Serena and I think she’ll be up for this.  I’m fascinated to see the result for this one, and i’d have to take Serena for the win.

Prediction: S.Williams d. Halep in 2 tight sets

I know there will be many of you with an opinion on this one, but pleaseee let’s *try* and be respectful to each other in the comments 😉

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

42 thoughts on “WTA Miami, Semi-Final Preview #2: Serena Williams v Simona Halep

  1. I’m actually thinking Halep pushes this out mate to at least 3
    Big 3 setter for Serena yesterday but think Haleps ability to retrieve might test her knee out.
    Keep the predictions and previews up love it.
    CSN to win v Petkovic with 90% of service games to be broken.

    Nishikori to beat Isner in 3 long sets
    Djokovic to destroy Ferrer

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      • Isner relies on his service games so much. He needs to serve well to stay on the match. Kei will most likely win in 2 sets.

        The Poll indicates that Halep will defeat Serena…provided Serena brings her “C” game. As we know, Serena can easily up her level in accordance with her opponent’s strength. In addition, Halep is certainly under her radar lately. I believe Serena will win this one and CSN will reach her first premier mandatory final in Miami. CSN may just win it all, who knows?

        P/S: James, it is quite refreshing to read your reviews after work. Thanks.

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      • @Sudut “In addition, Halep is certainly under her radar lately.”

        It kinda looks to me the other way around. I’d say that based on how Halep fought recently, it seems like she’s actually the hunter in this “game”. She has Serena as a target, most likely in an attempt to prove to herself and the world she has reached her 3.0 version. Not sure Simona is under Serena’s radar, maybe more like Serena is aware of the target on her back and she doesn’t treat it lightly. No matter how modest Simona’s interviews are in regards to targeting the #1 spot and all the praise she has for Serena, Simona is definitely targeting that spot and the win cause there’s no better way to prove yourself than by taking down the Alpha.

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  2. I keep asking myself when is Halep going to run out of steam, but she keeps on going. I think if Serena
    has a slightly off night, that Halep will be there to pounce.

    CSN to beat Petkovic, I agree with that simply because it will come down to who can hold their serve the most, there will as always be plenty breaks of serve.

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  3. Yesss. I’m glad Halep beat Stephens because I was looking forward to this matchup.
    I’m going to stand by what I said before their Indian Wells match and say that Serena slaughters Simona in a way she usually saves for Masha. Her Lisicki match shouldn’t be any gage of form, she’s prone to having an off day and she still pulled through anyway…

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    • “Slaughters”? Andrew, I know you’re not a Simona fan and are one of Serena on the other hand, but… “slaughters”? Come one, let’s discuss based on proof and player form, recent results and so on, not on hopes and dreams.

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      • I based it on the last time they played and on the scores of Serena vs Maria matches. That bagel at the WTA Championships is something Serena will NEVER forget. Taking revenge on a Lisicki or a Stephens is one thing, but neither of those players were true threats to her in the way that Williams does see Halep. Lets not forget Serena saying she’d be stepping up her training specifically for Simona…
        And I’m not “not a Halep fan”. I like Halep quite a lot actually.

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      • Andrew, Simona and Maria are 2 different players. How Serena adjusts to one or the other, is a different thing. Also, from saying that she needs to step up her game and train “for Simona”, to pulling it on court there is a step. It’s not only a matter of pure will. If it were just a matter of will, Simona would win as I see her more determined to prove herself in front of Serena than the other way around. Serena doesn’t have anything left to prove anymore, she proved everything in her fabulous career and whatever still comes her way is just an added bonus.

        This said, I’m not trying to take anything away from Serena’s amazing skills and track record. And I do agree she’s the kind of girl that steps her game up when it matters most, but so is Simona. She proved it time and time again, particularly during IW and Miami. They are both the kind of players that can pull off wins even when they are under the weather, due to their brilliance and vision on-court, swift appraisals of the tactics and so on.

        What Serena has working for her is the experience. I’m sure that by now Simona is not that frightened little girl that trembles in front of her anymore. The WTA matches were both complete BS if you ask me. Serena that lost to Simona was a Serena that had no idea what to expect from Simona and thought it would be an easy game. Simona that lost in the final was overwhelmed by her results, position and fact that she just trashed “The Queen”. Right now, I really don’t believe there’s any chance of trashing anymore unless one of them is seriously under the weather. So, as I said, Serena has the experience working for her and a taste of revenge. Simona has her age and young wolf aiming for Alpha blood. At this point, if both show a good playing disposition I believe it will only be a matter of who makes the most mistakes, rather than who out-wills or outplays the other.

        That said, I’d reserve terms like “slaughter” for matches like Serena vs. CiCi. I don’t take terms like trash, slaughter or “disgusting” – as I’ve seen used around here – lightly. Particularly as a sign of respect for these amazing athletes.

        May the best girl win and hope we’ll get to see one hell of a fight!

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  4. For me its Serena to win in straight sets, she will be coming all guns blazing.Halep’s got lucky too with the draw till now.Its Serena vs CSN final.
    Mens , Joker and Nishi both win in straight sets.

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    • I’m Djokovic’s fan through & through but he looks like he’s running half empty which could well mean he drops a set against Ferrer.

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      • Yes can be very possible but my take is since he has already conceded 2 sets till now this time he will try his best to come to the rhythm at the business end

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      • I’m actually thinking Isner will beat Djokovic. Possibly in straight sets. Novak doesn’t look himself really. And he never plays his best against big servers.

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  5. I think the match will be decided in the first 3-4 games when each player will try to dominate the other.
    If one succeeds there will be no big changes until the end.

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  6. First, I’ve seen that many of you see Suarez Navaro in the final and in my opinion this is wrong. Petkovici is playing really good tennis, she won Doha recently and I think she has a real chance to win this tournament. CSN does not heave the skills and strength to overpower Andrea. As a Halep devoted fan, I cannot give an unbiased opinion for the other semifinal. Simona improved a lot in the lost period but Serena is a tennis legend and if she wants this title, she can heave it no matter how bad she played Lisicki. At the end of the match, if Simona will win (and I think she can beat anyone with her current attitude of playing), I hope she will play CSN in the final. Andreea Petkovici just looks too strong for me at the moment. I made this comments based on playing stile, current form, and each players personality.

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    • All the younger opponent(s) are hoping to beat Serena “convincingly” one day so that they will be remembered. Frankly speaking, I think this is meaningless. One needs to beat Serena at her prime to be considered great, but not when she becomes aging at 33. On the contrary, she is continuing to beat them.So, Serena is the undisputed legend in the women tennis.

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      • That’s true Sudut, every young gun is looking to take the Alpha out. And Serena is STILL Alpha. She is still rocking that no. 1 spot, and has been doing so for a while now (how many weeks? 111-112?). I don’t believe that’s a sign of a player that’s out of shape. And even if she is, that kind of a streak still puts a target on her back and still gives glory to those that challenge her successfully.

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      • Not in the Pennetta and Giorgi’s match and some matches she played in IW I think 🙂 but Americans will come out to support Serena tonight. By the way, being a fan of someone doesn’t have to be so defensive to response on every post that mentioned “S****A” or “H***P”. Even a good tennis player can lose in any rainy day.

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      • Neither being a hater, mate. Neither being a hater.

        But that’s OK, preach! I’d rather discuss tennis based on facts and real opinions, cause disrespect and hate (why in God’s name as none of these players have done shit to you!?) I’ve seen a lot. If you do take a look at my comments around, you’ll never see me hating or disrespecting other players or Simona’s adversaries. Nor do I “censor” or make fun of their names, but preach, it’s only a matter of self-respect and education.

        I’ll stick to defending the players I like with common sense, because I like them, without trashing other players. I noticed that that’s the only way some understand to support their favorites, and funny thing, they’re also the ones acting disturbed about passionate fans and countrymen. Must be tough seeing all the support and love Simona gets wherever she’s going across the globe, Romanians or not.

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    • Oh, Simpson! What about the noisy American fans who will be there tonight? I noticed in the Venus-Carla match that twice someone called out during a point. Therefore, it’s not unique to Simona’s fans so let’s not pretend that the Romanians are bad. It’s just a few over-enthusiastic fans that’s all.

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      • Wow! Congratulations Alex Cristache for your comments. Your words show us education, common sense, and such an analytical mind.

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      • Reality won’t lie. Tonight Nouni has appealed several times to Simona’s fans to stop shouting when Serena was serving. The Americans are very polite and quiet to support Serena. The truth won’t lie as well.

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    • I can’t stand Halep for the simple fact that her “fans” are the most disrespectful P.O.S in every stadium. They disrespect her opponent and tennis in general by this non-stop noise during the points…okay, i get it, you want to cheer for her and want her to win by any means necessary okay, but when the player is at the baseline ready to serve STFU until the ball is dead. Other than that she plays good tennis, and looks good doing it.

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  7. Simona will undergo a lot of pressure tonight, the same like Lisicki did. I mean when the result is like a knife that cuts both edges… A “Out, Correction!” call to a nearly winner from Lisicki went on to change the faith of that game from Lisicki to Serena. Therefore the first set went in Williams’s favor further.
    I cannot state that was on purpose, perhaps just wishful thinking a bit… 🙂
    And there were other succesful challenges from Sabine and just one overrule from the umpire. But the damage has been done in the first set for sure. I think Sabine would have been won the match after taking the first set like it should with 7-5.
    I mean everyone has a limit to his/her nerves and holding them under control.
    Therefore Simona should not run out of challenges like she make those only out of nerves sometimes.
    And if Kaled Nouni is designated as umpire she’s doomed anyway… 🙂

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      • So your wish has been granted, Nouni is there. Pretty much of a coincidence! I expect for Simona to lose some points only on bad decisions from linesmen and umpire…

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  8. Serena Williams vs Simona Halep only gives everyone a chance to be excited and look forward to a match that should be extremely difficult to justify the pre-hype. To be honest, I am not sucked in for one minute! For this to have any chance of meeting the high expectations of the tennis world, Simona would have to be in peak form physically in every sense of the word. Simona in my opinion is clearly running on empty and has only dispatched her last couple of opponents courtesy of her good footwork around the court, bluffing her way in each case. Stephens was very poor yesterday in the first set and could never really quite get herself into overdrive to subdue a wilting Halep.

    Serena only smells danger once in a tournament. History should tell everyone what serena is like after a mini-scare. I see Halep coming across a brick wall today as i confidently predict a 6-1 or 6-2 set for Serena enroute to what should be an easy victory!

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  9. Chanting, calling the balls out, shouting with abusive words whenever Serena struck the balls won’t help Siphon to win the match. The Queen up the gear(s) again and again to send Siphon and her fans home. Good news for other fans that they can have a nice and quiet final on Saturday. I couldn’t be more happy!!! Bye and cya Siphon.

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    • I thought Serena was playing with the Romanian soccer team in the semifinal. I wonder if they will throw bottles or crackers like the soccer matches in the near future. I think WTA and the tournament management team really need to tighten up the security aspect when dealing with these brutal fans.

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      • wasn’t a big deal, in Romania fireworks and molotovs are allowed on the tennis tournaments, and except few accidents no player died from that

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    • And what about the Serena fans calling out, “Come on Serena” before Simona was about to serve in the 3rd set. I guess you all conveniently missed hearing that, eh? Yes, the Romanian fans (only a very few of them – let’s not overblow the problem) need to be more respectful. But, the same ‘rules’ should apply to other fans too. You know, hypocrisy is one of the worst character traits a person can have.

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