Match Preview: Simona Halep v Elina Svitolina

The second match out on Suzanne-Lenglen Court will see arguably the two biggest favourites of the women’s event battle it out in a rematch of the Rome final. Simona Halep is the favourite to win this encounter but onlyby a very small margin.

Recent Form

Simona Halep had a disappointing start to the season but she really picked things up on the clay courts which got her noticed coming into Roland Garros. At the end of the hard court season, Halep managed to make the third round of Indian Wells before falling to Kristina Mladenovic and then she fell in the quarterfinals of Miami to eventual champion Johanna Konta. In her first tournament back on the clay she fell in the semifinals of Premier event in Stuttgart to eventual champion Laura Siegemund. She really got her season underway when she defended her title at the Premier 5 level event in Madrid in a week where she got wins over Samantha Stosur and Kristina Mladenovic. Her amazing run continued as she reached the final of the Premier 5 event in Rome before falling to Elina Svitolina despite getting wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Kiki Bertens in that week. She did injure her ankle in the Rome final and it was uncertain as to wether she would play the French Open but she has looked fit so far this week seeing that she hasn’t dropped a set on the way to the quarters. Svitolina has been the best player of the year so far and a lot of that success has come on the clay courts. The end of her hard court season didn’t go to plan as she lost in the fourth round of Indian Wells to Garbine Muguruza and second round of Miami to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Her first tournament on clay went very well as she won her third title of the year at the International level event in Istanbul where she got wins over Sorana Cristea and Elise Mertens. She went to Madrid the week after looking tired and worn out and that showed as she fell in the first round to Zheng Saisai. She turned that around a week later as she won her fourth title of the year in Rome at the Premier 5 level event with wins over Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep, who all entered the French Open as serious contenders for the title despite Muguruza already making an early exit

Roland Garros Record

Simona Halep has got the biggest result of her career at the French Open so it, to the least, happy hunting grounds for the Romanian. This will Halep’s ninth time playing the event with her average result being the second round. Her worst result came on her debut at the tournament in 2009 when she was just 17 years-old and she fell in the second round of qualifying to Vitalia Diatchenko. Her best result was on 2014 when she reached the final, which is her best result at a slam to date, before falling to Maria Sharapova. In that run to the final she played an epic tournament which saw her get wins over Sloane Stephens and Svetlana Kuznetsova. She reached the fourth round last year so she has defended all the points she needed to already. Elina Svitolina is taking part in her seventh French Open this year after she made her first appearance in 2011. Over her six appearances the average round she has reached is the second round but she has already made it way past the average by virtue of reaching the quarterfinals. Her best result at the tournament came when she played the 2015 event which saw her reach the quarterfinals, which is also her best ever result at any of the slams. She ended up falling to Ana Ivanovic that year but she did get a win over Alize Cornet during that run. Her worst result came when she fell in the first round of qualifying to Anastasia Pivovarova in 2007, which was her first appearance.

Head to Head Record

These two have faced each other twice in their careers but only one of their battles has come on clay. At the moment their head to head record is tied at 1-1 so whoever wins this match will take the lead in their head to head. Their first meeting came in the first round of the 2013 Sofia event on the hard courts, which Halep ended up taking 6-1, 6-1. I don’t think that we can read to much into that match because they were both less established players and they were also quite a bit younger. I don’t think that either woman would have analysed this match due to how much their games have evolved, especially Svitolina’s game. Their other match was just a couple of weeks ago in the Rome final on the clay, which Svitolina ended up coming through 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. That match is also hard to judge as to how their games match up because Halep rolled her ankle towards the end of the first set and, understandably, didn’t put 100% in the decider in an attempt not damage it further. That match will give Svitolina some confidence but I don’t think it gives us much in terms of stats.

Prediction 

I think that both women will be really motivated as they are both trying to take advantage of the open draw today. I think Halep will come out playing great and Svitolina won’t be playing to badly herself but the Romanian will be too much as she will take the first set 6-0. I think that Halep’s level will drop for the second set but that will just be because her level was so high that it was an unsustainable level. I think that the second set will be really tight all the way up until 4-4, when Svitolina will zone through the last two games to force a decider. I wouldn’t be surprised if the start of the decider was tight but at 2-2, I think Svitolina will tense up and Halep will still be playing well and go through the final four games to reach her second French Open semifinal.

 

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