Is there anyone in the women’s game who moves better than Simona Halep on clay? Probably not.
The Romanian, who is the No. 1 clay-court player in the world by a wide margin according to UTR, will continue her quest for her first Italian Open title against the currently coach-less Dayana Yastremska.
The Ukrainian had an awkward split involving a head-scratching Twitter exchange with former coach Sascha Bajin, but has fared well since, earning two tough victories over Camila Giorgi and Amanda Anisimova in Rome. Halep opened at the Foro Italico by eliminating wild card Jasmine Paolini in straight sets.
I always thought that I remain the best player on the court in your eyes, even if I lose.— Dayana Yastremska (@D_Yastremska) August 26, 2020
Yastremska plays with a singular gear. She hits it hard, and then hits it harder. When in the zone, she’s proven she can beat anyone, but Friday’s match against a player of Halep’s caliber will require more than huge hitting.
One of Halep’s greatest strengths is her ability to win matches with multiple game plans. When she’s on, she can hit opponents off the court. When she’s struggling, she can still win with defense, movement, and her exceptional tennis IQ.
“I feel comfortable on clay, I have always been. I have been training and playing on clay for months, which is strange, as we are not used to that. I hope I can play at my best in Rome and Paris," Halep said.
Here is a great example of Halep’s versatility on clay. From sliding groundstrokes and superb defense to instant offense and deft touch at net, the world No. 2 is right at home on the dirt.
Yastremska is always a scary opponent, but don’t expect her to upset Halep—at least not in their first career meeting.
The Pick: Simona Halep in two sets