We’re down to the final four in Rome. After a nearly flawless run, Victoria Azarenka was eliminated in a lengthy clash with Garbine Muguruza. Yulia Putintseva was forced to withdraw from her quarterfinal bout with Simona Halep, due to a low back injury. Fourth seed Elina Svitolina saw her chances for another title dashed, as should be muster only three games in her clash with Marketa Vondrousova. Elise quietly moved through the Rome competition, getting edged out in the quarterfinals with a bagel in the deciding third set.
Who’s moving onto the finals.
WTA Italian Open Semifinal Predictions
Simona Halep vs Garbine Muguruza
Head to Head: Muguruza 4-2
Garbine Muguruza is leading the head to head 4-2. Combine that lead with the Spaniard’s stellar week, and Muguruza should like her odds in this clash. It hasn’t been an t easy run for the two-time Grand Slam champion in Rome. Her road to the semis has been filled with stern challenges. While her opener against Sloane Stephens was won in straight sets, the scoreline doesn’t reflect the Spaniard’s effort. In the second round, a lengthy bout with rising American teen Coco Gauff required a decider. The Round of 16 featured the seventh seed Johanna Konta, who easily succumbed to Muguruza’s powerful groundstrokes and solid serving. The biggest battle was against an in-form Victoria Azarenka. Inconsistent serving saw 18 service breaks. Yet, the Spaniard performed better behind her second serve, staving off 10 of 17 break points.
Simona Halep has spent far less time on the court. A first round bye and a quarterfinal walkover assures the Romanian is the fresher of the two. Indeed, the Prague Open titleholder has spent less than five hours on court to secure her three match wins. Add to that, the World #2 is comfortable on the red dirt. In fact, her two wins over Muguruza both came on clay. Halep will be at her defensive best. Expect her exceptional ball placement and long rallies to further exhaust the fatigued Muguruza. I don’t expect Muguruza to go away quietly, but in the end, the Romanian reaches the final.
Prediction: Halep in 3
Karolina Pliskova vs Marketa Vondrousova
Head to Head: Pliskova 1-0
Disappointing results at the Western & Southern and US Open has all but been erased from Marketa Vondrousova’s mind. The 21-year-old has turned in a solid performance at Foro Italiico. The Czech easily left fourth seed Elina Svitolina in a 6-3, 6-0 routing. No doubt, Vondrousova is an exceptional claycourter as evidenced by last year’s run to the finals at the French Open. Vondrousova’s variety and tight angels will certainly make Karolina Pliskova uncomfortable. Yet, her serve needs to lift against the top seed. In her quarterfinal, Vondrousova got only 54% of her first deliveries in play. She was able to defend well against Svitolina’s slower paced service returns. That is a luxury which Pliskova will not afford her.
Pliskova has found rhythm and range on the clay, something which lacked on the US hard courts. She has been sharply consistent with her groundstrokes and hasn’t missed much in Rome. The older Czech has enjoyed a high first serve percentage. However, it would benefit her to reduce her double faults. It may take the top seed a bit to adjust to Vondrousova’s wicked angles. There’s so much firepower and experience in the Pliskova game. If she can keep the unforced error count down and keep the big serve firing, Pliskova will come through in straight sets.
Prediction: Pliskova in 2