Simona Halep is Amazing
Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking about how Halep was trending downward, and rightly so. Her results aside from reaching the Australian Open and the Italian Open finals have been pretty disappointing. Also, let’s remember she was blown out at the Italian Open final by Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-4. Not a good look for the reigning number one.
Well, that was until she showed up at the French Open, where she proceeded to get through a tough draw, beating Mertens (16), Kerber (12), Muguruza (3) and Stephens (10) on her way to her first Grand Slam. It was about time for Halep, who has had great results, but had struggled to break through at a Grand Slam.
Complete disclosure here, I was 100% rooting for Halep, and it was not looking good given how well Stephens played both in the first set and to go break back and even things out in the second set. Stephens was dictating the points, both from a defensive and offensive perspective. Halep was doing her best to hang in there, fighting for every single point, while Stephens looked casual in her ability to make everything look so easy.
But then things changed. In my view it started with a gutsy ace from Halep at 15-15, 4-4 in the second set to go up 30-15. That has huge. It set the tone for the rest of the match. It said, “I’m gonna dig deep, hold my serve here, and then put pressure on you at 4-5, and take this second set.” She did just that, and then continued her momentum taking the next five games in extraordinary fashion, flying all over the court, making Stephens work and miss. She would take the third set 6-1 and become French Open champion. I couldn’t be happier for her. She deserves it.
I suspect things will come easier for Halep now. She has solidified the number one ranking and winning the French Open takes a huge 10,000-pound gorilla off her back. I predict a few more grand slams for Halep now that she can play without all the burden and pressure of not having won a big one.