World No. 1 Simona Halep will hope to retain her top place in the rankings this season, as she will start her campaign against Kaia Kanepi in the first round of the Australian Open.
Watch & bet on Simona Halep v Kaia Kanepi with bet365 here* on Tuesday, January 15. The Halep v Kanepi match will be played at 10.05 am local time (12.05 am BST).
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Halep’s Shocking Start to the Season
Halep, who has been awarded the top seed for the competition, started her season in Sydney last week. Over there, she met the Australian Ashleigh Barty in the opening round and quite surprisingly, lost to the 22-year-old in straight sets.
The Romanian’s early exit from the tournament led her to miss out on a substantial amount of ranking points. Consequently, she stands to lose her No. 1 spot in Melbourne to the likes of Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova, among others.
The top seed enjoyed a sensational run at the Aus Open last year when she reached the final. After edging past Kerber, Pliskova, and Osaka, she met Caroline Wozniacki in the final and lost to her in three sets. She did, however, move on to retain her No. 1 ranking on the back of consistent performances on the tour.
She was the runner-up at the Italian Open and followed that superb spell with a winning run at the Roland Garros. Later that year, she also won the Rogers Cup. However, towards the end of the season, her form took a hit and she failed to move past the early rounds.
Kanepi’s Third Encounter with Halep
The 33-year-old Estonian is set to meet Halep for the third time on the circuit. The head-to-head record is tied at 1-1, with Kanepi getting the last laugh.
They last met in the first round of the US Open in very similar circumstances. Halep struggled greatly in that match and Kanepi didn’t waste any time in making the most of it. She ultimately won the match in straight sets with 6-2, 6-4.
Her stint at the Flushing Meadows was her best one in 2018. After defeating Halep, she proceeded to reach the fourth round where she was defeated by Serena Williams in three sets. The World No. 70 also participated in a couple of ITF events, with her best run coming in Brescia, Italy.
Halep v Kanepi – Who Will Win?
Last season, Kanepi proved that she is more than capable of delivering shocking results on a big stage. Having lost to her once already, Halep will need to be alert throughout, especially when there is so much at stake. Furthermore, she is starting in the competition without a coach and it will be interesting to see how she fares this time.
Nonetheless, the Romanian will start this match as the favourite to win although, it can very well take three sets for her to win this one.
You can watch & bet on Simona Halep v Kaia Kanepi with bet365 on Tuesday, January 15.