Halep loses in Madrid, is she trending downward?
Halep is at the top of women’s WTA tennis rankings. That may come to a surprise to some because she hasn’t been playing very well since losing in the final of the Australian Open to Wozniacki in January. After Australia she had to retire in the semis of the Qatar Open, got destroyed by Osaka in the semis of Indian Wells, and lost to a slumping Radwanska in the second round of the Miami Open.
At the Stuttgart Open, her first tournament of the clay court season, she was the number one seed, and got completely spanked by and got spanked by Coco Vandeweghe in the quarters 4-6, 1-6. She then went to Madrid, where she was the defending champion and the number one seed as well, and quietly exited the tournament in the Quarterfinals with a loss to Karolina Pliskova. Credit to Pliskova who seems to be trending upwards on clay with a great tournament win at Stuttgart and reaching the semis in Madrid only to lose to Petra Kvitova.
The Rome Masters is next, and I believe she’ll have the ranking points to be seeded number one again. However, a lackluster result there would be a big blow to her prep for Roland Garros. Last year, she won Madrid and made the finals at Rome on her way to the French Open Final. you can recall went on to the final of the French open last year shortly after winning. Maybe Halep has been saving her clay court game for Roma and Roland Garros.
From the outside looking in, she doesn’t seem too worried. One look at her Instagram posts from the last three months shows she hasn’t seemed very down on herself even though her results have been pretty mediocre and nowhere near number one caliber. She’s always smiling in her posts, eating, training, and having a blast with her team and friends. Credit Darren Cahill for keeping her mindset focused on the next tournament instead of completely deconstructing. She’ll need him in the next couple of weeks if she’s to make a run at Roland Garros and finally get the Grand Slam she deserves.