WTA Rome, Semi-Final Previews: Sharapova v Gavrilova, Halep v Suarez Navarro

1. Daria Gavrilova v Maria Sharapova (Rome, SF)

SharapovaThree of the Rome semi-finalists are pretty standard.  The story of this week though has been the run of Daria Gavrilova.  The 21-year old has had a magnificent week, coming through qualifying and winning four main draw matches including back-to-back three set thrillers against Belinda Bencic and Ana Ivanovic.  Gavrilova has spent 12 hours and 57 minutes on court in Rome this week.  Also @Kmil0z on Twitter reminded me that Gavrilova played an ITF event last week, reaching the quarter-finals in Cagnes-Sur-Mer.  She is officially a machine!

In a battle of the qualifiers on Friday, Gavrilova defeated Christina McHale, 6-2 6-4.  It was a fun match, arguably the best of the WTA quarter-finals today, and Gavrilova played remarkably well considering the amount of tennis she has played.  She seems to be completely in the zone at the moment and momentum is dragging her through any possible sign of fatigue.  Gavrilova played a very smart match, dictating with her forehand but also showing a refreshing eagerness to mix up her play with drop shots and closing at the net.  McHale tried to be more aggressive, but hit a few too many errors to really get a foothold in this match.  Gavrilova lost her way a little in the second set as McHale got back to *4-5.  The American had three game points in that game but Gavrilova, aided by a gorgeous lob on one of those points, broke again to win the match in straight sets.

Gavrilova gets another shot at Maria Sharapova who beat a tiring, Victoria Azarenka, 6-3 6-2 in the last of the quarters.  Sharapova’s hitting was sharp and intense for the most part as Azarenka struggled to get going and looked flat.  Her three set third rounder against Irina-Camelia Begu that finished in the early hours of Friday morning obviously didn’t help her cause.  It’s been mentioned a lot but I love the addition of the drop shot to Sharapova’s game. There was one in the final game that was really special.  I think Azarenka has set herself up nicely for the French Open although she is going to get one of the big guns in the third round… don’t be Caro, don’t be Caro, don’t be Caro… We all know it’s going to be Caro!

In one of the biggest upsets of 2015 so far, Gavrilova beat Sharapova in Miami, 7-6(4) 6-3.  It was a surprising loss although Sharapova wasn’t at her best and did seem to be hampered by a foot injury.  Take nothing away from Gavrilova who played a superb match.  I like her presence on court and she’s going to piss so many players off. I like it though… she cares and she believes.  All those matches will catch up with Gavrilova at some point and I wonder if it will be in this one.  Sharapova has played well this week and will be super focussed.  A part of me thinks Daria could get a set and this will be a really great match.  Another part of me thinks it could be over within the hour.  I’m definitely going Sharapova, but i’m intrigued to see what kind of fight Gavrilova can put up.

Prediction: Sharapova d. Gavrilova in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Simona Halep v Carla Suarez Navarro (Rome, SF)

CSNTwo of the best clay courters on the WTA tour will meet in the first of the semi-finals at 12pm local time in Rome.  Simona Halep breezed through her quarter-final with Alexandra Dulgheru, winning 6-1 6-0 in just 56 minutes.  Halep broke serve on five occasions and saved all five break points that she faced.  In her three matches this week, Halep has dropped just seven games.  The Carla Suarez Navarro train keeps chugging along as she beat Petra Kvitova for the third time this year and fourth consecutive time on the tour… boy did I get that wrong hahaha! I really thought Carla looked like she was struggling at the end of that match against Eugenie Bouchard, but she did it again.  I have been made to look stupid on quite a few occasions this year! I did have Carla to the semis in my original draw but I felt like Petra would gain revenge after their respective routes through the draw.

Halep leads Suarez Navarro in their head-to-head 5-4; in their only encounter this year, Halep recovered from a poor first set and then rolled through the last two, recording a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory in the quarter-finals of Indian Wells.  Interestingly, Suarez Navarro has won all three of their clay court encounters.  I remember in 2013 when Halep made her big breakthrough in Rome, reaching the semi-finals, and then drew Suarez Navarro in the first round of Roland Garros.  The thought of the pair meeting in the first round of a Grand Slam now is hilarious.  Halep hasn’t been tested this week, but she should have plenty of gas in the tank.  I’d take Halep…

Prediction: Halep d. Suarez Navarro in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

Poll results: 62% of readers correctly predicted that Gavrilova would beat McHale, 34% correctly predicted that Suarez Navarro would beat Kvitova, 61% correctly predicted that Sharapova would beat Azarenka and 89% correctly predicted that Halep would beat Dulgheru.

Please note, i’m out all day on Saturday so the Rome final preview will most likely be posted on Sunday.

27 thoughts on “WTA Rome, Semi-Final Previews: Sharapova v Gavrilova, Halep v Suarez Navarro

  1. Impressed with Sharapova’s solid play against Azarenka,delighted that Daria has made the s/finals,she has to be the surprise packet in this tournament.On clay I give the edge to Sharapova.

    Carla was a different player against Petra,after her messy win against Bouchard,I have picked Simona from the start to win this tournament,not changing my mind now:) hopefully this will be a good match.

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    • She really set her mind on Roland Garros this year and the courts in Rome are the closest match to RG’s courts that she could get before the slam, unlike Madrid. It makes sense for her to push here and get a real feel of where she’s standing. A “preview” final agains Sharapova would be a real treat.

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    • Playing with an ageing Venus and all other weaker players, the results is normal. I would expect her to lose even less than 7 games.

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      • I am surprised at your saying that, given that you had picked Venus to win. In fact most people commenting here were going for a Venus’ win. So now 61 62 was not enough?

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      • No need to surprise at all. She did not meet any heavy weight player like CSN so she could keep her records clean. How many times she got broken in the semi when someone could counter punch back. That’s it and she lost.

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  2. Seeing how Maria bounced back from her so-and-so form, and with a mindset (probably) to get a bit of vengeance for Miami, I don’t think she can lose this one. At worst, one tight, one easy as James predicted. Not a big fan of Gavrilova. I know this might sound disrespectful, but truth is I dislike Daria’s attitude on court. She’s sort of a Duracell bunny on crack. To call her exuberant would be a true understatement. Maybe it’s her age. I like the Ladies of the court more. Fact is, right now she looks like she’s going to be the next “Pliskova”, like everyone will start seeing the next Big Bang in her. From where she is to confirming a status there’s a long way, and Masha won’t make the same mistake twice in a row, that’s for sure. Probably along the lines of 6-4, 6-2 for Masha.

    In regards to Simona vs. Carla, I really hope we get to see a quality match. Carla looked good against Petra. Simona looked great throughout the whole tournament. Almost unbelievably great considering the early Madrid exit. This is the exact clay that Simona likes and it looks like she found both her serve and her forehand is more secure these days. My bet – probably subjective – is on Simona and it will go either in 2 medium-easy sets (70% chance) or a 3 setter with Simona dropping a weird one (30% chance). Carla is too much of a mood player to be worth betting on her under the circumstances. If this will be her good day, we’ll have a 3-setter.

    Must admit, it’s a bit weird this quirk of the WTA – the girls’ mental – something we don’t see as often in the ATP. Or maybe this is what’s fun about it!?

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    • The reason you don’t like Gavrilova is yet you’ve forgotten the Cinderella story. It’s about the breakthrough of a humble person, though redneck. On the other hand I am sick and tired from so many VIP’s that are battling to invade our lives as “role models”. Gavrilova in three, eat it. 🙂

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    • I completely agree with you about Gavrilova. All of these commentators say they love her energy, but frankly it pisses me off a lot. It’s almost like a nonchalant form of arrogance that she has no right to have. She beat Maria in Miami because she was injured and that’s all it is. I do think, though, that this match could be interesting because Maria is looking for blood, and Daria knows it.

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    • I dont mind Daria’s emotional nature. But I think that while its helping her right now, it could work against her big time if she goes top twenty or even top ten. She has a great game to watch, a very smart player but with some power in her shots.

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  3. Anyone can beat a top or good player in their bad days. It must be a fool to think that Daria has a chance to beat Maria twice in Rome. This tournament will be won by Maria. Bite it and swallow all of it and I totally agree with James this time.

    In fact, Halep vs CSN match will be a close one this time and CSN does have a chance to upset.

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  4. Feisty words from people in the forum.

    You can’t fault Daria for her persona, at 5 ft 5 sometimes you need to be a little out there. She’s got a little storm going on inside sometimes. I think she caught Maria off guard in Miami with her level of pluck. Maria will be looking for revenge( she is good at this with non-Serena players). I’ll just watch and see what happens.

    Not sure, but a win here will benefit CSN a lot more going forward. A Daria vs Suarez final, that would be a blindside given the names that started this tournament. Halep is looking safe though.

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  5. In today’s modern game of dynamic tennis especially on the women’s tour, gone are the days when certain players dominated and ruled in most cases by their formidable reputation. Come the global recession, everything has become so competitive now as kids continue to emerge from China, Slovakia, and all parts of the globe to try their luck at changing the course of their destinies.

    It is now the same in all major sports where there is now hardly any dominance as like in the Steve Davis era, Sampras era, Navratilova Graff, etc. Serena will surely be the last of the Mohicans in what will soon become a very demanding sport to attain the entry level. It is breathtakingly amazing at the wealth of talent that we still have and continue to have on the itf level waiting for a chance to break through, Which is why you can really make a fortune on betting on the grand slam qualifiers if you know your onions.

    @Sudut proclaims “it must be a fool to think that Daria has a chance to beat Maria twice in Rome”? I would rephrase that by saying that it would even take a bigger fool to think that Daria has no chance especially after she has already convincingly spanked Maria once. She arrived here having subjected herself to defeat in an Itf quarter final to have a shot at better quality players. I did not back her in the first round of this tournament because of that Itf defeat. I wish I had known it was intentional. Yesterday the bookies made Mchale 8/11 fav with Daria at 11/10 till they suddenly realised that the girl had arrived with clandestine intentions. Maria started at 1/12 yesterday and quickly moved to 1/8, moving Daria from 7s to 5s. It just speak volumes in terms of the respect this kid is beginning to draw from far and near. You do not conquer ground troops, come into a city and suddenly feel disillusioned about capturing the King. I am not saying that Daria will win especially considering the number of hours that she has already spent on court. However, she will not be lamely throwing her hat in the ring either as I expect a real sweet and sour battle for ultimate glory.

    Navarro on the other hand looks primed for glory having beating Halep easily in all four previous clay meetings. Navarro is a bulky midget monster! Currently the only two games that overwhelm her are the bullying bashful styles of Williams and Sharapova. If you are neither of those two, she certainly has a chance against you’ especially when she knows she can beat you. Halep will always be a mental midget despite the abundance of talent. Carla is now really due for a big title which can only most likely happen if Daria beats Maria. I am taking Suarez Navarro to safely hit through Halep to another satisfying victory. Gl everyone!

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    • Maria. Was. Injured. That’s all there is to it from their Miami meeting. Maria lost because she couldn’t move to the best of her ability and her shots were flying all over the place. Maria won, like James predicted, in a tight set and easy set.

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  6. It seems that the Halep’s fans continue to bash other tennis fans everywhere they posted their comments including this one and WTA FB site. It is a free world and everyone can give their comments. Like it or not, Halep got sent home by CSN. Great match, both played really well but CSN was just too consistent in the semi. Like it or not, Halep is lovable but so much of her fans. I have a last laugh with 2-1 win, the money is so good for the weekend.

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    • Sudut, this comment is a bit rich coming from someone like yourself. You’ve got to be the worst on Moos blog for bashing opinions of other tennis fans. Fans that are here for a friendly chat about tennis matchups and are not here to get attitude from other fans or listen to some know-it-all gambler brag about his winnings, because he is just soooo much better than everyone else.

      Is every day a bad day for you or do you really believe you’re *always* right?

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    • A little confused Sudut why you keep going on about the Halep fans. They haven’t commented here for a while and that’s pretty much down to you! I agree that everyone is entitled to make comments and have an opinion but it works two ways. They are equally entitled to an opinion and to support their favourite player. Also, the Simona fans who have commented here I have found to be very pleasant.

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  7. Just a request with everyone to keep the discussions friendly.Don’t show up your emotions if you don’t like other persons comment because you have put your money on the other end or you think you have much lot of experience of tennis trading.I have know many of those who lost everything because of ” i know” it all attitude, Show some respect and humility.It dosen’t cost you a single penny or does it!!!!

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  8. Sharapova wasn’t at her best.but she got the job done over Daria,who suffered a ab injury in the match,well done to Daria who came through qualifies and made the s/finals.With this win Sharapova moves back to No 2 ranking,will be seeded No 2 for Roland Garos.

    Impressed with Carla’s win over Halep,she fought hard in the 3rd set,she deserves her place in the final.

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    • I thought Sharapova looked really sharp, actually. Gavrilova could have pushed for a win, or at least 3 sets, but she was clearly hurting halfway through that second set

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      • We will have to agree to disagree regarding Sharapova I am afraid:) Maria has a good chance now to have 3 Rome titles after her name.

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    • She got also a helping hand from the umpire, like an underdog she was 🙂 Overruling an Out in 2nd set, 3-4 and BP for Sharapova out of nowhere? At baseline and up from the chair. Without the minimal courtesy to get down and prove it, yet to the camera? Such an important point yet awarded as freebie to the VIP.

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  9. Just wanted to comment on the playing surface on court centrale,it is the worst I have seen it,apparently they laid a new surface and it didn’t have time to settle,I see now they are making running repairs before the mens s/final.

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    • I notice that they don’t seem to water the court so thouroughly as they do in Monte Carlo. Throw in high temperatures and I’m not surprised its breaking up.

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