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It's head versus heart in Stuttgart this week

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April 21, 2015


I am torn this week on the WTA. It's one of those scenarios where your head can't quite get a grip over your heart. You know what, I don't mind confessing to be a fan of Maria Sharapova, but loyalty is tested this week because of also being a big, big admirer of Simona Halep and the two clash in Stuttgart this week on clay. Well, technically, the two wouldn't clash until the actual final itself, going off as favourites in the opposite halves of the draw. A draw which has eight of the top ten in attendance.

Sharapova has won the Stuttgart title the last three seasons running, but has looked somewhat short of her very best in 2015. But this is the very point of the season where, historically she comes to life and you can almost write off anything that has gone before. Her performances on the hard surfaces have shown nothing but the fact that she belongs on clay. You usually look for big indicators of tournament history and clearly Sharapova has it in spades.

She'll be in extra good spirits this week too as it was her birthday on Sunday so should be looking forward to a big week. The thing about both Sharapova and Halep, is that they are both better clay players than they are on hard surface players. So that is a pretty scary thing when you look at the immense form that Halep has laid down this season, as the number two seed has won 24 WTA level matches this term, more than anyone else on the circuit. With three titles to her name already this season, the young Romanian is the one who is in top form, motoring along.

But the heart says that everything is fine in the Sharapova camp and you will see the best of her again this week. But the head, well that would have to lean towards the supremacy in form of Halep. The interesting thing in the Stuttgart event though is the draw, as neither have a particularly easy path to the final. Sharapova could face Angelique Kerber in the second round. The German, on home soil will be confident after landing a title on clay in Charleston recently, so a tough battle for Sharapova out of the blocks.

But then that is where the draw separates itself. In Sharapova's opposing quarter, you have Petra Kvitova, who hasn't played since February largely because of exhaustion and Ana Ivanovic. However, Ivanovic takes on young French star Caroline Garcia in the first round, and the winner of that match will probably run through to take on Sharapova in the semi finals, if the Russian runs true to form at the event. So Sharapova's toughest game could be her first.

As for Halep, she may have to battle Garbine Muguruza in the second round, a potential clash against clay expert Sara Errani or Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarter finals, before potentially running into another clay expert in the shape of Carla Suarez Navarro, who's not in bad form at all, in the semi finals. It's not a tough, backs to the wall type of draw for Halep, on form she would probably crush it, but it's trickier than what Sharapova has to face. If Sharapova gets past the second round this week in a quarter stacked with qualifiers, then the she should be a lock for the semi's and given her affinity for Stuttgart, the birthday girl should come good.

Guess heart does wins out after all this week at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

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