With all signs pointing to a Maria Sharapova victory, can upstart Simona Halep change the seeming course of destiny in the final of the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open. Consider that the only person to beat Masha on clay the last couple of years is Serena Williams. Ok, to be fair others, including Li Na in the quarters a day ago, had their chances. However, at the end of the day Masha finds the mental and physical fortitude to prevail. Consider also that the career Grand Slam winner is 2-0 against Halep. That too can be countered. After all, their last meeting was in 2012. Simona is a much better player than she was then. Even then, their last match went 7-5 7-5. It was close. Well, also consider the sharp form Masha displayed in thoroughly outclassing Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 6-4. Aga is no soft touch, but except for a stretch in the second set where Masha seemed to lose focus after she was already up 6-1 3-0, the match was never in doubt. Still, as well as Simona is playing, taking Petra Kvitova and her 66 unforced errors out 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-2 in the semis, if Sharapova lets up at all in the final Simona could make her pay. There are those who whisper that the 22-year old Halep is a future #1 in the making. Perhaps, but I don’t see Serena or Victoria Azarenka going anywhere in the next few years, despite Vika’s seemingly omnipresent injuries. If Simona is the next big thing in women’s tennis, she would make a huge statement by battling all of the trends reading against her in the final against future Hall of Famer Sharapova.
4 SIMONA HALEP (won 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-2 vs 5 Petra Kvitova)
8 MARIA SHARAPOVA (won 6-1 6-4 vs 3 Agnieszka Radwanska)