By Ros Satar, in Rome
- Simona Halep  v Kiki Bertens 
- Garbine Muguruza  v Elina Svitolina 
ROME, ITALY – Highest seed standing Simona Halep leads the charge for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals as the front-runners for consideration for Roland Garros start to emerge.
Simona Halep  v Kiki Bertens  – H2H: Halep leads 2-1
It feels like Simona Halep can do no wrong at the moment. After a little while looking list in the wilderness and an injury marred start to this season, Halep seemed to have rediscovered the kind of groove that took her to the final of the French Open in 2014, and has seen her defend her Madrid title.
Halep has dropped just one set on her way to the semi-final, and with each game her confidence is growing, as she explained once more to reporters. She shut down the game of Anett Kontaveit whose run here has seen her take out former World No. 9 Andrea Petkovic and World No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
“I’m really proud that I could continue winning and playing at my highest level after a title, so that is not easy. I feel good. I feel happy with my way that I play, and I feel happy also with my attitude.
“A little bit I feel tired. Is normal. Day by day is a little bit worse, but winning stuff is keeping me high, is keeping my up. So I’m not thinking about that too much. I just take day by day, and I go on court just to do what I can.”
Facing her will be Kiki Bertens, who made her run to the French Open semi-finals last year, along with showings at the Rabat semi-final and then the Nurnberg title. To make things a little more interesting, she also has the only clay court win between them to her name.
Both have solid court coverage and variety and Halep knows what to expect having win their last encounter at Wimbledon last year.
“I know that she plays flatter, harder, stronger. So I have to make her run.”
However – with the sudden change in conditions in Rome, after heavy rain suspended play on Friday night, and at the time of writing had started again, Halep may struggle again with the conditions.
Prediction: Bertens in three sets.
Garbiñe Muguruza  v Elina Svitolina  – Svitolina leads 2-1
It was always going to take a special performance to halt Venus Williams, who had looked very impressive to this point. Garbiñe Muguruza’s clay court progression this year was not that dissimilar to last years, struggling to get wins this year until Rome where her fighting spirit has come to the fore.
She was quick out of the blocks in the first set racing out to a 4-0 lead before rounding out the first set comfortably 6-2. After Williams’ sluggish start, it was a more competitive affair in the second set, with both failing to convert on early break point chances until finally Williams was rewarded for her persistence and her raise in game play with a single break advantage, to eventually level the match.
It was certainly edgy in the final set, trading breaks at the start before finally Muguruza broke once more to put some clear water between her and the American at 4-1. It was a long way back for Williams, as Muguruza settled her berth in the semi-finals.
Pliskova woke up a little in the second set, coming back at Svitolina after she broke early in the second set. The Ukrainian found herself under the pump after losing her serve again, but clawed her way back into contention forcing a tie-break.
This tie-break had more swings of momentum as the pair traded mini breaks with Pliskova failing to convert on three set points, and although she saved one match point, she could not do anything about the second.
Svitolina comes into this match with clay court title hardware on her side after winning in Istanbul and coming through a tough match-up with Pliskova, who had suddenly found her clay legs in Rome will give her confidence, but there is a new swagger to Muguruza who seems to have just cottoned on to the fact she has a title to defend.
Prediction: Muguruza in three sets.
Halep and Bertens are scheduled on Campo Centrake at 12pm (11am BST), with Muguruza and Svitolina scheduled not before 5pm (4pm).
Featured Image Credit: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
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