WTA Stuttgart, 2nd Round Preview for Wednesday: Simona Halep v Garbine Muguruza

 

MuguruzaIn 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

Poll results: 74% of readers correctly predicted that Muguruza would beat Strycova and 19% correctly predicted that Witthoeft would beat Barthel.

40 thoughts on “WTA Stuttgart, 2nd Round Preview for Wednesday: Simona Halep v Garbine Muguruza

  1. There are only three people in the world, James, thinking that clay is a fast surface. All of them can be found on your blog. Are you posting using different identities, just for traffic, James? 😀

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    • If its me you are referring to I said that Muguruza makes a clay court play quicker than it usually is. I never tried to insinuate that this is a quick court. Though as James said…it plays quicker than a lot of other clay courts.

      I think Muguruza will win. She’s a big match player and she’ll be feeling confident. She also has bigger weapons than Halep who either needs to play a flawless game or hope Muguruza plays a bad one.

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      • No, “Andrew”, was not about you. But you are in that line of characters now. How someone who writes can be, not knowing that there is a thumb-over in almost every word? I’m out of here.

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  2. Why do you call your prediction an upset? Muguruza’s chances here are at least 50-50. For whatever reasons, Garbine is a very bad matchup for Simona, more so than other big hitters like Pliskova, or even Sharapova. (However, Garbine doesn’t usually deal well with being the favorite, so there’s that :D)

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    • Not ‘for some reason’, it’s very simple. Muguruza takes the ball on very early and rushes points. Halep is unable to play her game when she isn’t able to dictate. It sounds easy but few players can do it well or consistantly, Muguruza being one.

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    • Well it would technically be an upset with Halep the number two seed. To be honest, I expected to be in the minority going for Muguruza. I’m not sure i’d call Muguruza the favourite too!

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  3. Safarova has a tough first set in her opening encounter, she was on the verge of loosing it although won second quite easily.But she has an upper hand against Woz who is not having a great year and form. Its Lucie’s game unless she blows it away.

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  4. Safarova had a tough first set in her opening encounter, she was on the verge of loosing it although won second quite easily.But she has an upper hand against Woz who is not having a great year and form. Its Lucie’s game unless she blows it away.

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  5. If Halep had really learn something from AO from confrontation with Macarova as she said this year (this is an important mark which explain a lot of her succes in the last two months), then will be a fight in which she will prevail. In three sets I think.

    There is another explanation for another Halep success here. The relation with I Tiriac. He advised her this year and she took very seriously him in order to gain a slam. So she is on a way. But is like all or nothing.

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  6. Whenever we see “Simona Halep” mentioned in Jame’s blog, you will see a long list!!! Halep is not unbeatable at least Muguruza has beaten her twice. If you find someone can consistently hit the balls back to Halep with power, you will most likely seeing Halep going to the airport in the next morning. I think this match is 50/50 but I go with Garbine.

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    • haha yes… i’m surprised there are so many favouring Muguruza, I was expecting to be in the minority as Halep has been so consistent this year. I agree, it’s a 50-50 match.

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  7. Mugu for me and that to in straight sets, with Halep the game goes so deep and lots of odd fluctuation whenever she is playing a good opponent (Pliskova,JJ etc).She got lucky in few earlier matches but maybe not this time.

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  8. Love the comments and difference of opinion although Im not sure what Asterix is on about. I do agree with James that this surface is quicker than most clay courts, having said that… I think Muguruza will hurt Halep on her 2nd serve with her big hitting ability, even with Haleps ability to retrieve balls and excellent form coming into this tournament, I will go Garbine in three sets.

    A key factor would be the winner to unforced error ratio in order to come out on top though… Cant wait for the match later this evening.

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    • I think Muguruza’s second serve will be the key to the match actually. Halep’s serving tends to be fairly solid, but Garbine’s second serve isn’t that far from Kerber/Radwanska/Errani territory when she’s under pressure.

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  9. Stay chill many are going for Simona,but some people are at work 😀 Stuttgart is EU normar time and don’t have time till evening to chat tennis 😊 James based on your up to now predictions about Halep and the outcome it means Simona will win in 2sets 😁.I’m very confident regarding this evening match,think she will be very determined to win.Don’t want to enter in pointless discussions,Garbine is clearly a tough player but on my 2cents Simona will find a way to defeat her.

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  10. It will all comes of how Halep plays. She hasn’t played an official match on clay and she is in general a slow starter in tournaments, but i trust her when it comes to face difficult opponent as has accustomed us this year she always raised her lvl in important matches or if she does not than she hangs in matches and doesn’t give up. I will go with Simona, but Garbine is capable of upset today.

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  11. Coming from Spain (although not born in Spain), Muguruza – which I totally support except when she plays Halep 🙂 – definitely has an affinity for clay courts (but so does Simona), and that’s one of her pluses coming into this match. Also, she has proven herself to be one of the worthiest and dangerous opponents for Simona lately due to her game style. She’s quick, she’s aggressive and strong-willed.

    The two previous matches can and at the same time, cannot be a perfect indication of today’s match-up. In Wuhan, Simona was still in recovery mode after a pretty disappointing second half of 2014. The FedCup match… well, it was FedCup and we all know that many things can happen there and also, Simona was still coming out of the Makarova shock in Melbourne 1-2 weeks earlier. Since then, Simona went through a big period of transformation and improvement and should come in to this match on a big wave of confidence.

    In regards to surface adjustments, sure, Garbine had one official singles match in Stuttgart, but Simona took that doubles match specifically to adjust, there’s no doubt about that. No one can say she was aiming for a good doubles-course here. I’m just happy she did it with Belinda Bencic which is one of my favourite young guns these days. So, in theory they should both be adjusted by now and with Mr. Tiriac in her corner, I’m guessing Simona has a small tactical advantage here.

    On paper, both players have great strengths and assets coming into this game and it should be one hell of a fight out of which I’d love to see Halep come out victorious. I’d give it a 60-40 chance on Simona in a three-setter. It should be one of the three great matches Stuttgart has prepared for us these days: Muguruza – Halep, Safarova – Wozniacki and Kerber – Sharapova.

    And what about that mind blowing 6-0, 6-0 from Zarina Diyas over Sabine Lisicki?! Just when I thought Lisicki is finally getting back in winning form after her amazing wins in Indian Wells and Miami. I’m in shock… and on a home court too!

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      • Alex totally agree with your both comments. Now I think Angie will mess the other half of James final prediction ☺. It was a great match yesterday,Garbine hat her chance but as expected Simona now knows when and how to raise her game.She did some crazy good shots😲 😲

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      • Thanks Doina. Hopefully, not that I have something against Angie, Maria will win. I really want to see – provided Simona reaches it too – a final between Maria and Simona. Just like I wanted those matches with Serena in IW and Miami, because Simona has already proven herself time and time again against the rest of the platoon, young guns, rising stars and experienced players alike. What she still needs to do is take on the legends more often. Not only as a way to back her status up, but as a relevant assessment of where she really stands, what her improvements weight.

        All in all, this was a good quality match, particularly at the strategic level. One that Muguruza lost because she still hasn’t learned when it’s time to stop playing on FFW. It’s like she has only one speed and when it works, she can demolish any player, but chances are you can’t go on and play FFW a full match and win against a player that over the last months has learned to overcome their mental lapses with amazing patience and faith in herself. That player will be there to eat you up the second you start showing signs of weakness.

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      • Ya I’m looking forward also to a Simona vs Masha clash but I can not root for Sharapova 😁(I tried some matches and really can not 😂). Of course she has the most chances,still I’m feeling very positive about Angie today.Nevertheless glad to see Simona maintaining the fighting spirit and adappting well to Stuttgart clay.

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  12. Alex, I just wanted to express my gratitude to such extended, well-documented and well-balanced comments. You are always a pleasure to read:)

    As for the predictions … I can only smile each time, James predicts an upset or wrong number of sets. And I am glad as this way I know Simona wins 🙂

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    • +1 for Alex’s comments, always well written. May I also add that my predictions have nothing to do with Halep’s result and I find your comment, Anca to be quite patronising.

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      • Thanks for the compliment James, I comment because I enjoy your blog. In regards to Anca’s comment, I’m sure she didn’t mean it in a patronising way, you know how the internet it. When a comment is in that “sweet spot”, we tend to pick out the negative. She said she’s smiling anyway, not going out all LOL on your ass. 🙂 I’m guessing that smile comes out of a patriotic feeling, after all Simona won, thus overcame your odds. doi_na2 & Anca seem like really nice people, please don’t take offence in their comments. They’re just supporting their player, every time without attacking their opponents like I’ve see other do ’round here.

        I for one know that you don’t have something against Simona, you’re probably more realistic than most of us who’d support her no matter what. I guess one day your prediction will come true as no player can keep winning and winning and winning. Someone will upset her one day and Muguruza had a good chance here. Your prediction was fairly balanced, you said 50-50 in the comments, probably went for Muguruza just based on match history. Cheers mate!

        @Anca Thanks so much for your words! I do my best to remain objective, though it’s hard when Simona plays. I do play favourites, just trying not to let it show too much. 🙂

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      • Thanks again for the comment, you have a way with words, Alex! Yeah, I feel sometimes people just concentrate on my prediction without noting what I actually wrote. Still, I went for Garbine and that was obviously a mistake. I know the Simona fans meant no offence. Interesting point you make about the cover image. One of the main issues is that I don’t have many pictures of Simona! Furthermore, she’s been winning so much these days so i’ve just tried to mix it up. You can expect a picture of her in the next preview if she wins today!

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      • Oh, one more thing James. Something that I noticed and I must say I find it a bit odd. On match previews that you post that relate to Simona, most tend to use an image of her oponents: Muguruza, Williams, Pennetta, Jankovic, Williams, Pliskova… being only a few recent examples. Gotta admit it would be nice to see her on the cover image in a more balanced way, otherwise it kinda looks like you’re already rooting for the upset. 🙂 What do you think?

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  13. James, it was certainly not my intention to show a behaviour of higher importance, in a “patronising manner”. I admit a certain dose of irony got stuck out of pure joy that Simona won despite most of the ” less backing comments” on her side, so to say.

    Unfortunately James, some people on your blog tend to be less respectfu and rather ironic with Simona. I do not remember having ever posted or attacked other players. That’s kinda sad and refrains me from posting more often.

    Alex very much welcome 🙂

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    • I know that wasn’t your intention, Anca. I think I was just being overly sensitive yesterday. That’s a shame that you have refrained from posting, but I do understand as the influx of Simona fans seems to have annoyed a few people. You’re always welcome though!

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  14. @Alex told you I’m feeling pozitive about Angie,call it the 6th feminine sense 😁 Congrats Simona for achiving nr 2 again!
    @ James sorry if my comments regarding your prediction offended you in any way,no intention,is your blog and you can predict whatever you want.For me as I’ve wrote on begining of the tournament it was such a dissapointment to see you gave more credit to Muguruza and seem to have a trend in predicting an early upset for Simona on the last tournaments. Think girl earned her spot sqare and fair!keep cool ✌

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    • I know that wasn’t your intention… Apart from this tournament and Miami (mainly due to the fact I thought Simona would be tired), I don’t feel like i’ve predicting her out of tournaments early. As I think I said in one of my posts, I do honestly believe Halep is going to have a great clay court season so i’d be surprised if have her going out early again 😉

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