Last year’s runner-up, world #1 Simona Halep, could well find things tougher at the 2019 Australian Open.
Simona Halep Locks Horns with Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 1st Round
World #70 Kanepi has been out of competitive action since her 4th round US Open defeat at the hands of Serena Williams. The firm ball striker starts her 20th season as a professional at the Australian Open 2019. She holds a victory over Halep already, beating her in the first round of the US Open 2018. The head-to-head stands at 1-1, Kanepi, if fully wound up could cause the #1 seed some issues.
Sofia Kenin or Veronica Kudermetova: Potential 2nd round Banana Skins for Halep
American, World #30 Sofia Kenin will be fancied by many, to edge out 1st round opponent Kudermetova. Kenin, comes into the Australian Open 2019 on the back of a 5 match unbeaten run. This is by courtesy of picking up her first WTA title in Hobart. An in-form, range finding Sofia Kenin will test Halep’s sharpness to the ultimate.
Venus then Serena Williams Potential Opponents for Halep Rounds 3 & 4
There is no let up for the Romanian- who is hoping to go one better this year and claim her second Slam title. She could potentially face Venus Williams round 3, then Serena Williams round 4. This would be a tough draw with the best of preparation, but Halep hasn’t played much tennis since the US Open.
Venus has recently beaten Serena in an Exhibition match and looked sharp when making the quarterfinals at Auckland. The 2017 Australian Open runner-up, if her serve is on-song will have Halep moving around the court testing her fitness and reach. This is of course, should they both make it through the first two rounds. Serena Williams v Simona Halep 4th tie is a TV scheduler’s dream of a match up. It will be a no holds-barred contest should it materialise.
Halep Needs to Draw on New Found Mental Fortitude
The mental tightness of Halep has previously been called into question. It was at last year’s Australian Open that she showed mental togetherness. She will need an abundance of mental strength in order to mirror last year’s effort, or go one better, of course. Halep looked off the pace in defeat to Ashleigh Barty in Sydney. It’s a tough ask for her to go deep this year. Given her draw, she could be an early casualty.