The first of the semi-finals in Stuttgart on Saturday at 12.30pm UK time will feature the two highest seeds from the bottom half, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki. Halep faced a tough first match in Stuttgart against Garbine Muguruza. She survived, producing an excellent comeback to record her first ever win against the Spaniard, 3-6 6-1 6-3. Muguruza had points for a 3-0 double break lead in the decider and also had a break point at 3-3; however it was Halep’s invention and adaptability that saw her prevail. Muguruza’s hard hitting game will continue to see her create opportunities against the best players on tour, but she has yet to work a plan B into her game. In the quarter-finals, Halep defeated Sara Errani, 6-4 6-4. The match featured 16 breaks of serve with the pair winning just 34% of first serves in the first set. It’s a common misconception that breaks of serve add up to a poor quality match. By all accounts, this was a good un’.
Wozniacki has already doubled her clay court wins from 2014 with two victories in Stuttgart to reach the semi-finals. Both wins were impressive results for Wozniacki as she defeated Lucie Safarova in the second round, 7-6(5) 6-1 and Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarter-finals, 6-0 6-3. I love that most of the talk during Caro’s match on Twitter was about her wearing a headband. I must admit, it really does suit her!
Wozniacki, who is working with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario during the clay court season, has made a solid yet unspectacular start to the year. Although clay hasn’t been a great surface for her in the past, there are great opportunities for her to claim ranking points during this stage of the season where, as mentioned above, she barely won a match in 2014 due to injury.
Halep leads Wozniacki in the head-to-head, 2-1. Their last match in Dubai earlier this year saw Halep prevail, 2-6 6-1 6-1. Wozniacki was struggling with illness in that match, while Halep has been playing with much more confidence since then. Halep has won 17 of her last 18 matches and looks to be in a great place right now heading into what should be her most favoured period of the year on clay. Wozniacki has played some good ball this week and i’d fancy her to win a set in this match. Halep looked to be clutching her side in her match against Muguruza, but I don’t think she would play if it really was an issue. I believe that Halep’s confidence and suitability to this surface will see her come through to reach a first final in Stuttgart.
Prediction: Halep d. Wozniacki in 3 sets