WTA Indian Wells, Quarter-Final Preview: Serena Williams v Simona Halep

Serena Williams

In a blockbuster quarter-final at the BNP Paribas Open, the world number one Serena Williams will take on the defending champion, Simona Halep at not before 7pm local time in Indian Wells. The pair were set to meet in the semi-finals last year before Serena was forced to pull out with a knee injury.

The Indian Wells draw has provided some stability this week with the top four seeds in the top half all reaching the quarter-finals. The upsets are fun and make the tour exciting and we’ve still seen that to a degree in the bottom half this tournament, but it’s encouraging to see members of the top ten proving their worth this week; in particular, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova have enjoyed their best weeks on tour in 2016.

Halep didn’t have to finish her match on Tuesday with her opponent, Barbora Strycova retiring one game into the second set due to an upper respiratory illness. Halep was leading 6-3 1-0 when Strycova pulled the plug. Halep announced before the tournament that she was fully fit and healthy after a stuttering start to the year where she had suffered health issues (nose and stomach) and struggled with a recurring achilles injury in Brisbane.

Simona has looked calmer and more assured this week, and has taken full advantage of two weeks off since her last defeat in Doha prior to Indian Wells. Halep has previously worked her way out of funks with breaks from the tour (for example after Wimbledon last year) and it seems to have worked favourably,  acting as a reset for the year.

Serena defeated the qualifier, Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-2 6-2 in just 72 minutes. The match wasn’t as straightforward as the scoreline suggested with five of the eight games going to deuce. Serena dropped her serve once in each set and wasn’t clinical on the break points, converting six out of 17; however, she never looked in danger, finishing with stats of 26 winners to 22 unforced errors.

Head-to-head record: Williams leads Halep, 6-1 in their head-to-head. The Romanian’s lone win came at the WTA Championships in Singapore, a 6-0 6-2 stunner in Round Robin action. Williams reacted with a straight sets win in the final of the same tournament. Since then, Serena has had the edge but their matches have been close. Serena won a tight three setter in Miami last year, 7-5 in the third set. In their last match on tour, Serena won in the final of Cincinnati, beating Halep, 6-3 7-6(5) in a high-quality and underrated match.

Final thoughts: Serena had a small blip in her second match against Putintseva but still hasn’t dropped a set this week. Her actual performances this year have been of a much higher standard than in 2015. Halep too is yet to drop a set this week and has successfully kickstarted her year in the desert, reaping the benefits of being fully fit. It’s great to see big match-ups like this and fingers crossed for a close and competitive contest. Since that match in Singapore, i’ve always wondered about Halep’s belief in rivalling the world number one again. It’s a good surface for Halep but i’d take Serena in a similar result to the one in the Cincy final.

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

16 thoughts on “WTA Indian Wells, Quarter-Final Preview: Serena Williams v Simona Halep

  1. Serena has been the more consistent player to start 2016 and her serve is stronger than Halep’s. Serena’s win-loss record stands at 9-1, whereas Halep is at 5-5. Serena has also served an average of 18 aces to six double faults, along with a winners-unforced errors ratio of 78 to 66. But, Halep has served only three aces to two double faults. Halep will put up a good fight against Serena. But if I have to pick a winner for this match, I’m going for Serena in two sets.


  2. Chris y r u laughing so hard…poll results don’t matter. So we can atleast vote for our favourite. Whatever the outcome may be. Win or lose but we r simo fans. Mind that


  3. Halep does fight against well against Serena. But, I don’t think she has enough power to push Serena to three sets like she was able to last year in Miami, thanks to the dip in form that she had at the Australian Open, Dubai, and Doha this year. Serena said that she’s very much aware of how strong a player Halep is. So, I believe that she will be the one ending this match stronger – I predict Serena will handle this match in two sets.


  4. Micjy,

    Yes, obviously loyal Simona fans are here voting for their favorite, and wonderfully so. I repeat: “Halep fans ARE the best!”.

    I know the poll results don’t matter, never said they did.


  5. I think Serena will win it though I also think Simona will win a set if she plays well.

    Is Serena playing better this year? IMO, there were times last year as well when she played some great tennis; for example, she sustained a very high level of tennis throughout her match against Domi Cibulkova in the AO quarter-finals and didn’t really dip at all. Her final against Carla in Miami last year was a complete beatdown. Then she won the last ten games of her semi against Timi Bacs in Roland Garros…

    I’d say her level is about the same.


  6. Im not counting Simona out. I think Serena has shown moments of doubt the past 12 months in closing out matches, sets and sometimes even games. She seems to get much more nervy than she used to and it affects her serve. It happened against Kerber in Melbourne- a match EVERYONE thought she’d win, even Angie.


  7. If simona keeps very close to Serena then there is a big chance that she will make Serena nervous and that might go in her favor.


  8. I have my doubts on Simona – she always starts out strong against Serena, but then Serena ends stronger. There’s a real reason why Serena leads the head-to-head 6-1 against Halep. She has a better serve and is more aware of Halep’s game than Halep is about Serena. I feel that if Halep had withdrawn from Dubai and Doha, she would have had a better chance of winning the title. But, Serena is more healthier and stronger – her serve has tremendously improved (she was able to cut down on the number of double faults in her matches) and she’s moving up more to the net than before. She also took the time off to get herself refreshed, healthy, and prepared for this tournament. I predict Serena will win tonight’s match in two sets, and two things will happen. One, she’ll win this title without dropping a set. Two, she will reach the final without dropping a set and she’ll win the title in three sets. And why am I predicting Serena in two sets? Several polls already predicted that she will dish out a two-set win against Halep and when they predict Serena in two sets, it’s almost 100% accurate and correct.


  9. Great win for Serena. Despite a few blips on serve in set 1 she looked terrific. I’ll be interested to see if theres anything Aga can bring to try and win. She’s only won one set in their 9 meetings. And that was a result of a poor line call.


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