In perhaps the pick of the quarterfinal action in Montreal, world #1 Simona Halep will continue her quest for a second title in the Great White North against world #6 Caroline Garcia of France. Halep endured a slightly disappointing Wimbledon campaign, but after winning the French Open just three weeks earlier, a slight let down was hardly unexpected. Garcia, meanwhile, has yet to really get going this season, but a deep run here would be just the impetus she needs. Who will come out on top?
Halep and Garcia have met five times in a head-to-head the Romanian leads 4-1. Their first match was contested two years ago in Sydney in the round of 16 and Halep battled to a 6-4 2-6 6-1 victory. They next clashed at last year’s edition of this event, also in the quarterfinals, and Halep dominated to win 6-4 6-2. Garcia then bested her in Beijing in the final 6-4 7-6, before a 6-4 6-1 victory for Halep in Singapore. They also met earlier this year in Rome in the last eight where Halep won 6-2 6-3.
Path to the quarterfinals
Halep, the top seed in Montreal, received a first-round bye and thus began her Canadian Open campaign against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round. The match was held over due to a rain delay on Wednesday, and it proved to be a real battle. Halep edged out the Russian in the first set, 11-9 in a tiebreak, but lost the second 4-6. She then scraped through in the decider 7-5. Halep then returned after rest to beat a weary Venus Williams, also pulling double duty, 6-2 6-2.
Garcia, who also received a bye, opened her tournament against 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova. It was the Slovakian who took the first set, winning it 6-4. But Garcia levelled swiftly in the second set before toughing out the 4-6 6-1 6-3 win in the decider. That win set up a clash with Maria Sharapova, who had destroyed Karatantcheva and 12th seed Kasatkina in the preceding rounds. But despite a good start from Sharapova, Garcia had much the better of it, winning 6-3 6-2.
How do they match up?
This will be a match contested, for the most part, from the baseline. Garcia will likely do the majority of the attacking, relying on her powerful groundstrokes, particularly her forehand, to hit through Halep. But the world #1 is amongst the best counterpunchers in the sport and defends superbly with both her forehand and backhand. Indeed, her open stance defending, which bears strong parallels with Novak Djokovic on the ATP Tour, is surely the best in the women’s game.
She is also capable of stepping into the court and dictating. She spreads the court excellently, particularly with her forehand, and her backhand down the line has proven a valuable weapon for her more than once. But the Romanian will need to be wary of Garcia’s quality in the forecourt. Having struggled to win their baseline duels in the past, Garcia would be wise to approach the net as often as practical in this match in order to force the issue.
The conditions and match up would normally favour Halep. Indeed, she won comfortably in Toronto at this stage a year ago. But after her lengthy battle against Pavlyuchenkova and then her match against Williams, which though short must still have been mentally and physically draining, Halep surely cannot have that much left in the tank. Garcia, having played a quick match against Sharapova, stands to benefit. Expect her to do so in straight sets.