In a blockbuster second round match, Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza will round out proceedings on Wednesday in the last match of the day in Stuttgart. I’m chuffed it is the last match of the day so I will get to watch it! In first round action, Muguruza defeated Barbora Strycova, 6-1 6-4 in 75 minutes. Muguruza tore through the opening set but encountered some late resistance, serving out the match at the second time of asking. Muguruza lost just 12 points in the opening set; she won 16 of the first 19 points and went up 5-0 within 15 minutes. There are still a few question marks mentally about Muguruza who occasionally does wobble when closing out matches. She has had some huge wins in her career and the consistency is slowly coming.
This will be Halep’s first match of the week although she did play a doubles match on Monday against Belinda Bencic. Vying for the world number two spot this week, Halep has had an excellent year up till now with titles in Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells. After a disappointing loss to Ekaterina Makarova in Melbourne, Halep has really knucked down and won quite a few matches when not at her best and showing some fighting spirit. The Indian Wells final against Jelena Jankovic was a prime example of this. I was also impressed with her ability to back up her Indian Wells title with a semi-final appearance in Miami. All too often we have seen Halep pull out of tournaments having gone deep the week before, but with a mixture of confidence, momentum and incredible fan support, she fought on and gave Serena Williams a tough match in the semi-finals, eventually falling 7-5 in the decider.
In their two previous meetings, Muguruza has come out on top against Halep both times; Muguruza prevailed in Wuhan last year, 2-6 6-2 6-3 and earlier this year in Fed Cup action, 6-4 6-3. On a fast court, this is a very tricky match-up for the Romanian player. Halep has been remarkably consistent this year but does have the tendency to be vulnerable early on in tournaments; she has lost a set in three of her five opening matches at tournaments this year. Add to that, this will be Halep’s first match for a few weeks and her first on clay this year. Having already won a match and with the ability to take the time away from Halep on this surface, there’s a real opportunity for Muguruza to bag an upset. I don’t go for many upsets and this is a big risk, but my instinct says this is one worth taking! In my opinion, the winner of this match will reach the final…
Prediction: Muguruza d. Halep in 3 sets