Niculescu should be competitive but Stephens has the edge.
Due to start at 9 pm
Niculescu 2.28, Stephens 1.74
Stephens leads their previous matches 2-1. They last met in January 2015 in Hobart. Stephens won on a hard court in straight sets. Their other matches were on clay in 2014 and 2011.
Niculescu has much better overall results in 2018 but Stephens has been getting her head around being a grand slam winner. She seems to be playing better tennis recently. She made the quarter finals in Acapulco. This week she had an easy win over Tomljanovic in straight sets. Three of Tomljanovic’s 4 games were breaks of serve.
Niculescu has come through the qualifying rounds and two main draw matches without losing a set. She beat Putintseva and Rybarikova in the main draw. She has served reasonably well.
Niculescu will put Stephens under more pressure today than Tomljanovic did but I expect Stephens to win. Back her above 2.00. The sets should be tight.
Update: Stephens won 6-7, 6-3, 4-0(ret)