World number one Ashleigh Barty will kick-start her new year with an exhibition match against Romania’s Simona Halep at the 2021 Adelaide Exhibition competition on Friday, January 29, with the match likely to begin at around 9 pm local time (10.30 am BST or 4.30 am Eastern Time). Get the live streaming options of this Ashleigh Barty v Simona Halep match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Ashleigh Barty v Simona Halep Head to Head
There have been four previous matches played between Barty and Halep and all of them have come at the WTA level. Halep leads 3-1, having won at the Montreal Open and Cincinnati Open in 2018 and then again at the Madrid Open the following year.
What’s in Barty’s favour is her only win over Halep came in Australia, at the 2019 Sydney International. Interestingly, none of these four matches went up to a third set.
Barty Hasn’t Played in 11 Months
When Barty takes to court for this match in Adelaide, it will be her first competitive match since February 2020. The Aussie featured in four tournaments in 2020, winning one title, making it to the semifinal at the Australian Open before opting not to play in any tennis after the pandemic put a pause on the season prematurely.
Even after the season resumed in August, Barty opted not to travel to USA or Europe to feature in any of the competitions, having not been able to practice with her coach at times because of cross-border restrictions between Aussie states.
What this means is Barty will have a struggle on her hands despite holding on to her world number one ranking – thanks in no small part due to the change in the WTA ranking system. The good news is this result, in an exhibition competition, doesn’t count for anything from a WTA points point of view but as far as confidence-boosts go, she would like to give herself a fair shot at regaining some of it heading into the start of the 2021 season.
Halep Coming off a Solid Season
The Romanian world number two Halep won three titles in a season which was that curtailed, having clinched the Dubai International, Prague and Rome Open in 2020. More vitally, she lost just two of the 12 matches she played on hard court surfaces, with one of those losses coming in the semifinal of the Australian Open at the hands of Garbine Muguruza.
The flip to that is Halep hasn’t played a single match on hard court surfaces since she February as well – like Barty – having returned from the pandemic-induced break in August and featured in three tournaments on clay.
She won two of them, but was stunned in the fourth round at the French Open before calling it quits for the year.
Halep will have a similar rustiness issue like Barty, but will look to take some confidence from her showing on clay; add another match against a player she has beaten thrice of four times they met and the Romanian will start off as bit of a favourite.
Barty v Halep Prediction and Tip
Backing Halep to win this given her hold over Barty and the fact the latter hasn’t played in a while.
Tip: Halep to win: 4/5 (bet365)
The 2021 A Day at the Drive will be played on January 29. You can watch all these matches with Channel Nine in Australia or live stream it with 9Now there. In the UK, these matches will be broadcast live on Eurosport Player. Get your latest premium tennis predictions here.