(5) Maria Sharapova vs (2) Simona Halep
Friday’s match of the day sees fifth seed Maria Sharapova take on second seed Simona Halep for the first time since their epic Roland Garros final earlier this year. Both Maria and Simona were not at their best during their respective third round victories on Thursday and will be looking to step things up in what looms as a very important match heading into the U.S Open.
After rising to a career high ranking of world number 2, Simona has made a solid start to her U.S Open series campaign. The Romanian played some sublime tennis in her straight set victory over Kirsten Flipkens before being made to work hard for a tough 6-4 7-5 victory over Lucie Safarova. Simona looked very nervy serving for the match at 6-5 but Lucie was unable to capitalize. Simona will need to step up her game if she is to notch up her first victory over Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati on Friday.
Maria Sharapova has been made to work hard for her first two victories in Cincinnati. After overcoming Madison Keys and a hostile crowd in the second round, Maria battled past Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 7-5. Pavlyuchenkova served for the second set at 5-4 but Maria was able to raise for level when it mattered most to take the match in straight sets.
Maria Sharapova has a perfect 4-0 record over Simona Halep. Their two matches this season have both been of an extremely high quality; both candidates for match of the year thus far. For me the Roland Garros final was the best match of the season thus far. It was Maria Sharapova who just came out on top 6-4 6-7 6-4; one of the keys to the match was the fragility of Simona’s serve when under extreme pressure. Simona will be desperate to notch up her first victory over the Russian on Friday, however I believe Maria is better placed heading into this match. Given this is Simona’s first tournament in the U.S Open series im not sure she is ready to compete at a level high enough to defeat Maria. However I am still fairly certain this match will go the distance…
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Simona Halep in three sets