An intriguing quarter-final between two players who have been on the rebound in March, Simona Halep and Timea Bacsinszky, will play at not before 1pm local time in Miami.
Bacsinszky produced the best win of her career on Monday, coming from a set down to defeat the world number two, Agnieszka Radwanska, 2-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and two minutes. The Swiss player recovered from a nervy opening set where she committed 19 unforced errors (to Radwanska’s seven) and allowed Radwanska to dictate. It was a clean opener though from the world number two who dropped just four points behind her serve.
Things began to turn in the second set with Bacsinszky going up an early break. Radwanska had break back points in the next game, but was done over by a bad call. One of Bacsinszky’s shots was called long but on the challenge, it was shown to have just clipped the line. Radwanska hit the ball back into play but the umpire awarded the point to the Swiss player. Bacsinszky rode the momentum with Radwanska clearly unsettled; despite failing to serve out the second set at *5-2, with Radwanska producing an injection of aggression, Bacsinszky served it out at the second time of asking, 6-4.
The Swiss player won the first eight points of the third set and never really looked back, dictating the majority of rallies. Radwanska won just one point behind her second serve as Bacsinszky dominated with an 81% first serve percentage. It was a scrappy match with both players struggling to impose their groundstrokes in the heavy conditions. Radwanska has played a lot of tennis in the last month and that started to show at the end as she became more passive. For Bacsinszky, this was her first ever match on Stadium court and she needed the time to get used to the court and surroundings… it wasn’t her best performance but she improved dramatically from start to finish to record a superb win.
Halep didn’t have things all her own way as she battled past Heather Watson, 6-3 6-4. The pair exchanged early breaks with Halep leveling up at 1-1 on her sixth break point in an eight deuce game. The Brit broke again and consolidated with the first hold of the match. Watson was going for the lines and it was paying off with Halep starting the match in sluggish fashion. However, the Romanian player, buoyed by one of several changeover chats with her coach, Darren Cahill, won the last five games to win the set, 6-3.
The second set was punctuated by three breaks of serve from 2-2. Halep broke, Watson broke and then crucially, Halep broke again with Watson playing a poor game with two double faults. There were no wobbles from Halep at the end who served out the match to love.
Head-to-head record: Halep leads Bacsinszky in the head-to-head, 2-0, with wins in Torhout (6-1 6-3, 2010) and Shenzhen (6-2 6-2, 2015), the latter coming in a final.
Interesting stat: Both players are turning around their years in a pretty big way; Halep compiled a 2-4 W-L record in her first four tournaments, but is 6-1 through Indian Wells and Miami. Bacsinszky posted a 1-3 W-L record through her first three tournaments down under, but is now 7-2 through her last three tournaments.
Final thoughts: Halep hasn’t played her best tennis in Miami but what has been impressive is that she keeps racking up the wins, and in straight sets too. This wasn’t the case through the first two months of the season so it’s pretty noteworthy and particularly for a player like Halep where confidence is key. Bacsinszky now looks back to full fitness and the good results are coming thick and fast. There’s a lot to suggest this should be a high quality contest. Heart says Bacsinszky but head says Halep… going for the world number five in a tight two setter.