By Ros Satar, in Rome
- Simona Halep  v Anett Kontaveit
- Venus Williams  v Garbine Muguruza 
- Elina Svitolina  v Karolina Pliskova 
ROME, ITALY – The women’s quarter-finals take place with some big names looking to stake their claim as favourites for Roland Garros.
Simona Halep  v Anett Kontaveit – H2H: Halep leads 1-0
Madrid champion Simona Halep arrives full of confidence at the moment. She successfully defended her title but with it came a change in attitude.
She admitted that she had felt ‘ashamed’ of her attitude where she completely melted down in the quarter-final in Miami with eventual champion Johanna Konta, and after watching back things needed to change.
And how they have. Since then she has reached the semi-final once more I Stuttgart, won Madrid back to back and is eyeing up a third semi-final place.
She said, after reaching the quarter-final: “I think it’s because of the confidence. I feel every shot I hit; I feel every ball. Doesn’t matter where I am on court. I just feel good, and I have confidence that I can return the ball pretty well.”
If we are talking about confidence, then cast your eyes on qualifier Anett Kontaveit who is making waves on her Rome debut. She has already dispatched former World No. 9 Andrea Petkovic, and followed that up handily with taking out World No. 1 Angelique Kerber. She demolished Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1 6-1 to book her quarter-final place.
She too is feeling pretty confident, as she described: “I thought I played really great. I managed to do all the right things and stay with her.
“That was the plan. I thought I did really well. Of course it feels great. Yeah, first time in the quarterfinals in such a big event. It’s really exciting.
“I just try to take it really match by match and focus on every tournament and all these matches. It’s all really new to me and all still gaining a lot of experience and getting used to all of these things.”
Halep’s experience, form and focus make her the favourite, and fatigue may start to be a factor for Kontaveit.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
Venus Williams  v Garbiñe Muguruza  – H2H: 3-0
Venus Williams has been in imperious form this week, dropping just one set to Konta as she made her way to the quarter-finals. The 1999 champion has been impressing on a surface that statistically is not her strongest.
She faces Garbiñe Muguruza for the fourth time but for the first time on clay and will be looking to extend her unbeaten run over the reigning French Open champion, but that might not be so easy this time around.
It has been a pretty miserable time on the dirt for Muguruza. She stumbled out of Stuttgart and Madrid with opening round losses and will undoubtedly be under the spotlight as the clay court season reaches its conclusion in Paris.
But maybe we have seen the green shoots of confidence too from Muguruza – she had to come from a set down against Jelena Ostapenko in her opener here, and then came back 1-4 down in the second set to beat Julia Goerges in straight sets.
Little by little her confidence is returning and not before time. It was a slightly less poor clay court start last year for the Spaniard with at least a win each in Stuttgart and Madrid before the semi-finals in Rome last year, before her run to the French Open title.
She said, after her match: “I’m very happy with every victory, honestly. Because I feel like right now every girl, every woman, is playing very good. You never know when they go to the court who is going to win.
“It’s so equal that I felt today like if I didn’t play well and concentrated, I could lose easily this match. I was very happy also because I didn’t play my best in Madrid, and in Stuttgart I kind of lost in the third set. So I’m happy to be able to win matches here in Rome.”
She has only gone the distance once with Williams in their first match, and since then it has been one-way traffic for the American, so Muguruza will have to pull out all the stops if she wants to reach at least the semi-finals again.
Prediction: Williams in three sets.
Elina Svitolina  v Karolina Pliskova  – H2H: Pliskova leads 5-0
Another person that seems to have clicked on clay this tournament is Karolina Pliskova. While she doesn’t exactly hate the surface, it is not the best one for her long levers and game, and her results saw no back to back wins until Rome.
She will face Elina Svitolina and with that head to head which includes two early wins on clay, she might expect to be the favourite to come through once more.
Svitolina has been steady this year, and many high things have been expected of her in the past. Certainly she has stated her intentions on the clay with the Istanbul title at the start of the season, but was disappointing in Madrid.
Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.
Featured Image Credit: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
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