Italian Open 2021: Simona Halep vs Angelique Kerber – Preview, Head-to-Head, Prediction

Published 05/12/2021, 5:49 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021 Romania’s Simona Halep in action during her quarter final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott


Though the top-ranked player in the WTA Power Index for clay this year, Romanian tennis star Simona Halep hasn’t quite been able to show her true colors on her favorite surface so far.

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She fell in the semifinals at Stuttgart to eventual runners-up Aryna Sabalenka and followed that up with a fourth-round exit in Madrid after losing to Belgian Elise Mertens.

With only Rome and the French Open left to salvage her faltering clay-court campaign this season, the two-time Grand Slam champion will face a stern test against former World No. 1 Angelique Kerber in her tournament opener at the Italian capital on Wednesday.

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Both Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber are searching for their best tennis this season

A three-time Grand Slam champion herself, Kerber has been struggling to find her groove on clay as well this season.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Germany’s Angelique Kerber in action during her first round match against Bernarda Pera of the U.S. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Her returns from the surface this year have been modest at best and include a fourth-round exit at Stuttgart after losing to Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and a third-round defeat at Madrid to veteran Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova.

Hence, Wednesday’s fixture would essentially qualify as a clash between two tennis stars who are still searching for their best form this season.

With neither going into the match at the top of her game, it will all boil down to which of the two brings the better game to the park on the day. Both are experienced campaigners and will look to sense each other out fairly early in the piece. 

Halep holds a slender 5-4 head-to-head lead over Angelique Kerber

While Halep is aggressive on the baseline, especially on clay, she doesn’t mind an occasional foray into the net with those cute drop shots, subtle volleys or powerful overhead smashes and putaways.

Kerber’s game isn’t much different from the Romanian’s, only that she has a powerful serve as well which makes her an even more formidable opponent.

This is precisely the reason why they have been involved in some absorbing battles over the years, and their rivalry is seen as one of the fiercest in contemporary women’s tennis.

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Halep, the current World No. 3, holds a slender 5-4 lead over the 33-year-old German in nine head-to-head clashes, a record which is a telling statement on their rivalry. However, they have only met once on clay, in the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros in 2018, with the Romanian prevailing in three sets.

It will be interesting to see if Kerber can get her own back at Halep on clay and go even in the head-to-head tally in this battle of veterans.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

988 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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