The world number four Simona Halep would open her 2017 Australian Open campaign against a very dangerous opponent in Shelby Rogers in the first round, one of the must-see matches in the first round of the competition.
Halep has been one of the most consistent players on the WTA tour as she has been ranked in the top 10 since 2014 and never left there once. It has been another season full of ups and downs last year as the Romanian suffered from some low points which saw her exit in the opening rounds for a total of five times. Nevertheless, Halep still managed to win her second premier mandatory title at Madrid and qualify for the WTA Finals once again in a year that she earned six top 10 wins.
Whereas, Rogers has had her best season in her career as she reached her first ever grand slam quarterfinal as an unseeded player at Roland Garros where she lost to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza. The American also reached just her 2nd WTA final of her career in Rio but lost to veteran Francesca Schiavone in the final in three sets. By virtue of her magical run to the quarterfinals in Paris where she defeated Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina, Irina-Camelia Begu and Petra Kvitova in her path to the last eight, Rogers then debuted in the top 60 of the rankings and soon rose to the top 50 in August.
Halep’s 2017 results
The world number four started her season on a negative note as she exited early in the Shenzhen Open where she was the favourite to win the title. After earning a hard-fought victory over former world number one Jelena Jankovic in a very tough first round match, Halep shockingly fell to the 52nd ranked player Katerina Siniakova in the second round in three sets after she was outclassed by the Czech, who would go on to win the title during the weekends. The Romanian then decided to skip the second week to rest fully for the Australian Open so as to not overplay and be fully fit and prepared for the first grand slam of the year.
Rogers’ 2017 results
The American started her season at the Brisbane International, where she was faced with a very tough draw having to face off against former world number five Eugenie Bouchard in her first match of 2017. However, Rogers managed to create the upset and extend her head-to-head record over Bouchard to 3-0 after triumphing in three sets. Despite the encouraging win in the first round, she lost a close battle in the next round against Elina Svitolina. Proceeding to the Hobart International to get some good results before entering the Australian Open, she created an upset in the first round when she defeated second seed Anastasija Sevastova in three sets. She followed it up with a dominant victory over Lara Arruabarrena before falling to Lesia Tsurenko in three sets.
The pair has met once in their careers at the 2015 US Open, where the Romanian triumphed in straight sets in the third round of competition without any kinds of trouble. This match that would be played on Monday is definitely thought to be closer than their previous meeting where Rogers was not even ranked in the top 100 and had to qualify for the main draw.
The inconsistency of Shelby Rogers would make the match further unpredictable as she could be erratic on a bad day but would be very solid in her game if she were to have a good day.
Rogers’ game is very powerful as she feels very comfortable playing on the offense, and that would help in the match as she should be able to overpower Halep when it concerns the attack.
However, Halep is a counterpuncher and her playing style has been proven effective and reliable in the past few years as she was consistent enough to keep her place in the top 10. She would be able to go against the offense of Rogers and would be able to redirect the pace and keep it deep in the court, which would leave Rogers hitting her groundstrokes in an uncomfortable position.
With no match practice in the past week, it would be hard to gauge Halep’s level of tennis now and the match would definitely be a tight affair as both players have the necessary weapons needed to win the match.
Prediction: Rogers in three sets