WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships, 2nd Round Preview: Simona Halep v Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic

One-sided scorelines have been a feature of the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Championships so far. All six first round matches on Monday were decided in straight sets and the first two matches on Tuesday’s Centre Court schedule went that way too; Another breadstick-bagel result was in the books as Ana Ivanovic stormed past Daria Gavrilova, 6-1 6-0 in just 53 minutes. The manner of the result was very surprising as Gavrilova has cemented herself as one of the grittiest competitors on tour. The Aussie had a bad day at the office, finishing with stats of 3 winners to 22 unforced errors. On the other hand, Ivanovic played a very secure match and was confidently hitting winners off both wings.

Ivanovic sets up a tantalising second round match against the number one seed and defending champion, Simona Halep. The Romanian player has delayed nose surgery which had previously ruled her out of the Dubai-Doha swing. In a recent WTA article, Halep stated that she feels “okay now” and is likely to delay the surgery until the end of the year.

Halep’s form in 2016 has been below-par, but this can be attributed to her numerous health complaints, as well as the achilles injury which forced her to miss Brisbane and have the trainer out in her first match in Sydney. After a shocking first round loss at the Australian Open to Shuai Zhang, Halep went the distance with both Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova in Fed Cup action last weekend; she went 1-1, surrendering her perfect head-to-head record against Pliskova, but winning an all-top 10 clash with Kvitova for her third consecutive win against the former Wimbledon champion.

Head-to-head record: Halep and Ivanovic are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head; They didn’t play at all during 2015 with their last match being the dramatic round robin match in Singapore at the end of 2014 where Ivanovic won in three sets, 7-6(7) 3-6 6-3. Halep won their two matches prior to that in Madrid (6-2 6-2, 2014) and Sofia (2-6 6-1 6-3, 2013)

Final thoughts: This is a tricky one to call; Ivanovic has settled down after a slow start to the year that saw her lose her first two matches in Auckland and Sydney. Her form was much improved in Melbourne and St. Petersburg, and the quick win over Gavrilova will have no doubt gone a long way to cut short the disappointment of a straight sets semi-final loss to Roberta Vinci in Russia. While the health concerns have perhaps faded for Halep, she’s yet to find her groove in 2016. It’s hard to split the pair on head-to-head, form and the likely conditions. I think it’s a good court for Ivanovic but being at night might favour Halep. I’ve been burnt going against Halep on many occasions but I think, and it’s a really tentative and woolly feeling, that Ivanovic might take this one.

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

25 thoughts on “WTA Dubai Duty Free Championships, 2nd Round Preview: Simona Halep v Ana Ivanovic

  1. If Ana can play first strike tennis,her serve has to be ‘on song all match’and fhand working well,going on her last match against Daria,I feel she can defeat Halep

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  2. Honestly, I don’t even care who wins this match. Ivanovic and Halep both have had such struggling starts to the season this year. I feel that neither Halep nor Ivanovic are going to have great seasons this year, because of their match records so far at the beginning of last month. Halep is taking a big risk to play in Dubai and Doha, while struggling with ear/nose/throat infections and a left Achilles injury. With those things in mind, I don’t believe Halep has made careful decisions about putting her health first. Ivanovic has also gone downhill. Her game hasn’t really much been the same since she parted with Dejan Petrovic and reconciled with Nigel Sears – the unforced errors are coming in at crucial times in the match. For both Ivanovic and Halep, the serve stats are like Sharapova’s – more double faults than aces. It’ll be good to see this match go to three sets. But, I have a strong feeling that this will be a scenario where Serena Williams is as far away from what’s going with Dubai drama. But, Serena’s very lucky to not be defending any points from Dubai and Doha, thanks to her withdrawal from both tournaments. Despite the withdrawals, Serena’s making much better decisions with her health now since the 2015 Australian Open, unlike some of the other WTA players we’ve seen playing while injured. If I had to pick someone to win this match though, I’m going for Ivanovic. But, I definitely DO NOT see Ivanovic or Halep as a favorite to win the title.

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    • Well the reason Sharapova serves a lot of doubles is because her second serve is so aggressive. She takes almost nothing off for it.

      Ana usually serves more aces than doubles. I have noticed this past month that her serve speed has dropped, presumably so that she gets more of them in court. Its probably a wise move while she gets some confidence serving again.

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    • I’m just not excited about Dubai this time around. Not sure why, maybe to many out of form players, players carrying injury, and top players sitting it out for one reason or another. I was hoping this year players wont start out fizzling hot and be burnt out by march ending. Indian wells might just be it. I guess I will wait.

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  3. As you said, James, you’ve been burnt before betting against Simona. Again this one feels like it could swing either way, particularly due to Simona not having enough – successful – matches under her belt this year. Injuries, early AO exit, maybe even that loss in Fed Cup, though fought out. Ana is a brilliant player and has always been, but her form tends to fluctuate a lot day-to-day. I’m thinking this match will be more a matter of who keeps the cooler head, with Ana having maybe some extra confidence from the emphatic win against Daria.

    Thing is, Simona loves playing as an outsider. It’s then when she feels less pressure and these days she kind of comes from the outsider’s position. A lot of people tend to say: “Now everyone knows how to beat Halep”. Pretty quick to judge, particularly when a player struggles with their form. The fact that X can beat Y in a bad day/period doesn’t make it a rule of thumb. But as I said – and your poll results confirm it – she’s viewed as the second option these days and that takes away a lot of the pressure that she’s been struggling with. A small drop in rankings might actually do her well, remind her of the way she used to fight back in late 2013, 2014 and start of 2015. It’s time to put the good relationship and trust she’s built with Cahill to good use.

    Uhh, another essay. 🙂 All in all I’m expecting a tensed match today. Not betting on it being spectacular, maybe with moments of brilliance from either/both player/s. I’m going for Simona on this, but I’m sure I’m subjective on this. 🙂

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  4. Both Ivanovic and Halep have fluctuated with their form this year. You can never know whether they’ll be strong or flat-footed. Their matches won-lost ratio is at an even 4/4 and 3/3, respectively. I think this’ll be a match where there are at least 20 breaks of serve and more than 100 unforced errors combined together.

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    • I don’t hate Ivanovic. She is good when the big guns are not around. I don’t see her winning the title here either. Halep is very low in confidence at the moment. Also, the court speed is very fast and suits players like Ana, Kvitova, Coco, Garcia and Mladenovic.

      When they play on the slow surface. Halep will have an upper hand again.

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      • Halep wasnt below par in the first set. It was the best set she’s played in a while. And the court wasn’t playing quick as it was cold and damp.
        Did you watch the match or are you making assumptions?

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  5. Good solid win for Ana in straight sets 76(2) 62 over Halep secures a q/final spot against Babs

    Also being a fan of Caroline Garcia good to see her with a win over CSN.

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    • Wouldnt it be great to see Garcia and Ivanovic in the semi finals? Im positive one or both of them will fluff it up and we wont see it, but itd be fascinating nonetheless.

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      • Let’s take one match at a time for Ana and Caroline:)

        Goodness me Garbine that was just a Horror Filled UFE Match,I turned over to watch Petra’s match hoping it would be better?:)

        Honestly Petra? well done to Madison Brengle

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      • Oh my what a day! The Muguruza-Svitolina match was bad… and then Kvitova-Brengle as well :-S Brengle really gave it her all but still sad for Petra.

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    • I won’t accuse that to Goerges, especially when those kinds of scenarios happened a lot before even on bigger stages, see Kim Clijsters in 2003 AO SF against Serena, Martina Hingis in 2002 AO Finals against J. Cap, Lindsay Davenport in 2005 AO Finals against Serena, and Caroline Wozniacki in 2011 AO SF against Li Na.

      On the otherhand, its kind of funny to read about Garbiñe’s self-destruction.

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