WTA Finals Shenzhen Purple Group Preview: Halep vs. Pliskova

WTA Finals Shenzhen Purple Group Preview: Halep vs. Pliskova

It's win or go home in this 12th career matchup between the Wimbledon champion and world No. 2, with a semifinal berth on the line..

Standings screenshot from shiseidowtafinalsshenzhen.com

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova are set to face off for the 12th time in their careers, but this time with a WTA Finals Shenzhen semifinal berth on the line. Both fell victim to the red-hot Elina Svitolina in straight sets, and both saw off an injury-plagued Bianca Andreescu. There are no secrets between Halep and Pliskova anymore: they have split their last four meetings, with Halep owning the overall head-to-head record 7-4. 

Aside from her runner-up finish in 2014, Halep has failed to get out of the round-robin stage the last three years, while Pliskova is looking to make her third consecutive semifinal appearance. They have never played at the WTA Finals before, but Halep won an earlier indoor hard-court meeting this year en route to leading Romania past the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup World Group first round.

Pliskova, the perennial WTA Tour ace leader, will need every free point she can get against the current Wimbledon champion. Pliskova may have the power, but Halep owns a significant advantage in the movement and consistency department. The longer the point, the more it favors Halep.

There is some eye-popping prize money at stake, as well. The loser of this match will walk away with a cool $610,000. The winner guarantees herself $995,000 and the opportunity to compete for the grand prize, $4,420,000 (Svitolina can earn $4,725,000 if she runs the table). There is no Grand Slam glory at stake, but the financial implications, and 1,325 points (1,500 for Svitolina) offer plenty of motivation. Expect a hard-fought battle between two of the decade's best players. Winner: Halep

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