The semifinal lineup has been set at the WTA Birmingham Classic, including 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and one of the most in-form players on the tour, Beatriz Haddad Maia. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. Who will go to the final?
WTA Birmingham Classic Semifinal Predictions
Zhang Shuai vs Sorana Cirstea
Head-to-head: Cirstea 2-1 Zhang
Zhang has now equaled her best previous result in Birmingham, a semifinal run in 2014, though the 33-year-old is certainly hungry for more. For the Doubles World No. 3, this is only her second semifinal run of the year after her title in Lyon. Zhang endured some tough battles in the early rounds, going three with Jana Fett and Elena-Gabriela Ruse, but defeated Dayana Yastremska in straight sets in her last match.
Cirstea has had some nice runs this season, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open as well as the semifinals in Lyon and Istanbul. In Birmingham, Cirstea beat Shelby Rogers in three and allowed Aleksandra Krunic just two games. The 31-year-old’s toughest test came in the quarterfinals, coming back from a set down to defeat Donna Vekic. Cirstea leads the head-to-head with their first match dating back to 2008. Zhang has won their only meeting outside of clay though, beating the Romanian 6-1 6-1 in Miami earlier this year. That most recent match-up makes the odds lean slightly towards Zhang, though it is a tough one to predict.
Prediction: Zhang in 2
Simona Halep vs Beatriz Haddad Maia
Head-to-head: Halep 2-0 Haddad Maia
After suffering a panic attack that contributed to her early French Open exit, Halep is back on grass with a vengeance. The second seed has been dominant in her wins over Lesia Tsurenko, Harriet Dart, and Katie Boulter, now carrying a 10-win streak on grass going back to her 2019 Wimbledon title.
Since coming back from suspension at the end of 2020, Haddad Maia has gone 137-39, a 77.8% win percentage. The Brazilian has risen higher than she ever had before in the rankings, winning her first WTA titles and reaching a doubles slam final. The 26-year-old won Nottingham last week, including impressive upsets over Maria Sakkari and Alison Riske. Now Haddad Maia is on an eight-match win streak, beating Petra Kvitova, Magdalena Frech, and Camila Giorgi in Birmingham. This will definitely be a match to watch with both players being potential dark horses for Wimbledon. I lean on the side of experience here by picking Halep, but it will be a big test for the former No. 1.
Prediction: Halep in 3
Main Photo from Getty.