The 2019 Miami Open is rapidly approaching its finish line. Four players keep their title hopes intact. Which two will earn their spot in the final?
WTA Miami Semifinal Predictions
Anett Kontaveit vs Ashleigh Barty
Official Head to Head: Kontaveit 1-0 Barty
As these two were born a few months apart, the origin of this rivalry dates back to their junior days. In fact, their lone hard court meeting took place in Malaysia… a whopping eight full years ago, when a 14-year-old Barty beat 15-year-old Kontaveit in straights. Also in 2011, the Estonian would earn revenge at the junior French Open. It’s been nearly five years since the pair played their only WTA encounter at Wimbledon qualifying, so it’s fair to say these precedents are meaningless. Heck, they all happened before Barty temporarily swapped tennis for cricket!
Currently, both Kontaveit and Barty find themselves at career-high rankings. On Monday, the Aussie will be a top 10 player both in singles and doubles. No small feat.
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Their trajectories in Miami have not been devoid of obstacles. In the quarters, the Estonian completed an impressive 3-6 6-2 7-5 comeback versus Su-Wei Hsieh, erasing a 3-0 deficit in the decider. According to Tennis Abstract, that was her third coin flip match of the tournament, having barely survived both Amanda Anisimova and Alja Tomljanovic early on.
Meanwhile, Barty got a massive monkey off her back by beating Petra Kvitova for the first time in five attempts. The Australian went toe to toe with the big-hitting Czech for two and a half hours en route to a 7-6 3-6 6-2 victory. The key for Barty will be to sustain her effectiveness on points played with her first serve. She has won at least 70% of first serve points in all four Miami matches so far. At this level, Barty can beat anyone on the WTA tour, Kontaveit is just a notch below at the moment.
Prediction: Barty in 2
Karolina Pliskova vs Simona Halep
Head to Head: Halep 7-2 Pliskova
The lower half semifinal features a pair of consolidated pros who have won plenty of silverware. In this case, the head to head is meaningful, since all nine matches have taken place since 2015. Merely a month ago, Halep obtained a narrow 6-4 5-7 6-4 Fed Cup win.
The Romanian is a terrible matchup for Pliskova, because she is an excellent defender and opens up the court with ease. Halep has produced at least eight break points each time she has faced Pliskova, with one exception. You guessed it right: the lone straight sets victory by the Czech, last year in Madrid. But the Spanish capital is located 2,190 feet above sea level. Pliskova’s humongous serve instills less fear in Southern Florida. Journalist Matthew Willis tweeted that Miami’s court is considerably faster at Hard Rock Stadium than it used to be at Crandon Park. I think Pliskova might be the superior player for certain stretches of the match, but Halep ends up advancing to the final.
Prediction: Halep in 3
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