Simona Halep: Wimbledon Win Showed Me How Well I Can Play - UBITENNIS
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Simona Halep: Wimbledon Win Showed Me How Well I Can Play

Simona Halep talked about her high level of self-belief and her relief at ending her sequence of US Open first-round losses.

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Simona Halep (@WilsonTennis on Twitter)

Simona Halep is a picture of contentment at the moment. She smiles when she practices and when she is talking to the media, she is delighted when she wins and she does not seem too affected when she loses.

 

This is because the Romanian knows what she is doing now. She is 27 and at her peak, she works hard, she has good people supporting her on and off court and she is managing her schedule sensibly. In short, she is doing all the right things to give herself the best chance of success.

Halep’s meticulous, measured approach to the 2019 season paid off spectacularly at Wimbledon. She found some good rhythm on grass in the preceding week at Eastbourne. Then she gradually improved with every round at the All England Club, which set her up for a near-perfect performance in the final that made the great Serena Williams look ordinary.

“The good thing is that I believe I can touch that level,” the Romanian said in her press conference. “If I keep working really hard every day, I can do it again. That’s why I’m motivated. I’m still hungry for results, for titles.”

“I’m sure that with matches and with tournaments I can get back there. Probably this tournament, I don’t know, maybe next one. You never know.”

She continued, “You just have to believe and go ahead. You have nothing to lose now in my position. I’ve done everything I wanted, extra winning Wimbledon. I’m pretty relaxed. But still I have expectations for myself. I’m trying to get better day by day.”

This kind of response is typical from Halep. Her belief in herself is obvious, but she clearly never gets ahead of herself. Instead, she focuses on the process of practising well, improving her tennis and winning one match at a time.

Halep shows her class to beat ‘mirror image’ Gibbs

Nicole Gibbs (@USTA on Twitter)

The Romanian’s approach served her well in her first-round match at this year’s US Open. She was up against Nicole Gibbs, who is in many ways her mirror image. She is the same height and almost exactly the same weight and their body shapes are very similar.

Furthermore, both the American and Halep are primarily defensive players. They are great athletes and defend her baselines very well. They also have fast reactions and can be effective at the net.

The similar styles of the players produced a closely-fought match that went the distance. Halep eventually won it 6-3 3-6 6-2.

In the first and third sets, the Romanian demonstrated two of the main qualities that explain why she is ranked No.4 and Gibbs’ highest career ranking is No.68.

The first quality is footwork. While the American is good in this regard, nobody gets into better positions to hit a tennis ball than Halep. She is the best in the world.

The second quality is attacking play. Gibbs is a very good defender who is capable of dragging almost anyone into long rallies, but she is not good enough at finishing points to consistently beat players in the top 50. By contrast, the Romanian can hit winners against anyone when she reaches top form.

This encounter illustrated Halep’s superiority in attack, as her performance dictated how the match went. In the first set, she won 65% of points on her first serve, hit 15 winners and made 12 unforced errors. She won it 6-3.

In the second set, the Romanian struck just 7 winners and made an uncharacteristically high number (22) of unforced errors. She lost it 6-3.

And in the decider, Halep raised her game once more. She hit 12 winners and 8 unforced errors and won it 6-2.

Halep happy to overcome the stress of previous first-round defeats

Simona Halep (@CincyTennis on Twitter)

In her press conference afterwards, the World No.4 seemed very relieved to get the victory after losing in the first round of the US Open in 2017 and 2018.

“The pressure was tricky today,” the Romanian. “Winning one match in three years is pretty tough. But it’s good that I could get over that.”

“I was stressed before the match. It was not easy to play on the same court that I lost on last year. But I’m really happy that I could manage in the end to play better than in previous sets. In the third set my level was really good.”

Halep continued, “I definitely feel lighter now. I feel much better after finally winning a match in this tournament.”

“I don’t feel great at the beginning of tournaments. But always when I have played tough matches at the start, then I have made it through to the semi-finals or quarter-finals. So I’m confident. I’m moving well and I feel like my game is there.”

Now that the Romanian has ended her sequence of first-round losses at Flushing Meadows, it is hard not to look ahead to possible headline clashes later in the tournament.

The first of those could come in the last 16 against one of the sport’s newest stars, Bianca Andreescu, who has won all seven matches she has played against top ten players so far.

But Halep definitely will not be looking that far ahead. She focuses only on the next task, which on this occasion is a second-round clash with Taylor Townsend, and it is a method that is serving her superbly at the moment.

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Sam Stosur Produces Comeback To Reach First WTA Final For 28 Months In Guangzhou

Sam Stosur reached her first WTA final for two and a half years with a three set win over Viktorija Golubic in Guangzhou.

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Sam Stosur (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

Sam Stosur came from a set down to beat Viktorija Golubic 2-6 7-6(4) 6-1 to reach her first WTA final in two and a half years. 

 

After losing the first set in comfortable fashion and surrendering her early break lead in the second set, the Australian fought back to reach the Guangzhou final.

The win means that Stosur will now compete in her first WTA final for two and a half years, when she won the Strasbourg title in 2017.

Speaking after the match the former US Open was delighted with the way she rallied back into the contest, “I just tried to hang in there and find a way to start playing a bit better,” she told the WTA website.

“She’s very tough to play against so I’m just happy to get through. This is where everyone wants to be, so to now make it to the final, I’m really happy and I’ll give it my best shot tomorrow.”

Having reached the final, she will now re-enter the world’s top 100 and compete for the 10th title of her career, which would be her first on hard courts since 2014.

Standing in Stosur’s way will be world number 20 Sofia Kenin after the American edged out Anna Blinkova 7-6(5) 4-6 6-1 in a tight contest.

Six breaks of serve was enough for Kenin as she aims to win her third title of the season having won in Hobart and Mallorca this season.

Seeds Deliver In Seoul As Rain Halts Play In Osaka

Meanwhile in the Seoul, the seeds managed to deliver to book their spots in the semi-finals. Yafan Wang, Karolina Muchova and Magda Linette all cruised into the last four in South Korea.

Although second seed Ekaterina Alexandrova had to survive a big scare against in-form Kristie Ahn with the Russian edging through 6-7(0) 6-4 6-4.

However there was a bleak day in Osaka, Japan where only one match was completed as three of the quarter-finals will have to be played tomorrow.

The one result saw Angelique Kerber reach the semi-finals having lead Madison Keys 6-4 4-6 2-1 before the American retired.

Tomorrow will be Kerber’s first WTA semi-final since reaching the final in Eastbourne in June.

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Serena Williams Confident In Bid For Grand Slam History Claims Patrick Mouratoglou

Patrick Mouratoglou says that Serena Williams is confident of another grand slam victory despite recent setbacks.

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Serena Williams and Patrick Mouratoglou (@BBCSport - Twitter)

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that the American is confident in her bid for more grand slam history. 

 

Despite the American not winning a set in her last four grand slam finals, Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou has claimed that she is still confident in winning another grand slam again.

Serena’s last grand slam win was at the Australian Open in 2017 before taking a break from the sport to become a mother.

Although it has been a struggle, Mouratoglou believes time is on the 37 year old’s side, “I think time is working for her,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports.

“I think she was much better at the US Open than she was at Wimbledon and Wimbledon better than Roland Garros. 

“She is getting back in shape and the more in shape she will be the more dangerous she will be. I think she has started to play really good tennis.”

Losses to Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu have exposed Serena’s lack of confidence and how nervous she is in the grand slam finals.

However Mouratoglou believes that Serena’s historic moment will come sooner rather than later, “It is one match for history and the pressure is quite high,” he said.

“I am not in her mind but I can figure she is playing one match for history. This is the highest pressure anyone can have in life and on the other side of the court she plays girls who have zero pressure because it is their first final.

“They are going to play many [Grand Slams], they are young, they are excited, enthusiastic so they play without pressure and that makes a big difference. But at some point she will figure out how to deal with that.”

Serena’s next tournament is scheduled to be the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in late October, should she qualify although there is a good possibility that we won’t be seeing on a tennis court until next year.

Will 2020 be the year that Serena finally figures out how to deal with the pressure of creating more history for herself? Only time will tell.

 

 

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat Italian Next Gen star Jannick Sinner in St. Petersburg

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat 18-year-old Italian Next Gen rising star Jannick Sinner 6-3 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Kukushkin fended off nine of the eleven break points he faced.

 

Sinner, who turned 18 last month and received a wild-card to take part at the next November’s ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan, did not convert three break points in the first game, but Kukushkin saved them to hold his first game.

Kukushkin, who won his only title in St.Petersburg in 2010, was the first to break serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Sinner earned three break points but Kukushkin fended them off. Sinner saved a break point in the eighth game but Kukushkin served out the opening set on his first set point.

Kukushkin went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead, Sinner converted his second break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Kukushkin got a break lead for the second time but Sinner rallied from the break down for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Sinner earned set point at 5-4 to force a decider, but Kukushkin saved it to draw level to 5-5. Kukushkin got a mini-break in the tie-break to win the tie-break 7-4.

Adrian Mannarino, who won his first ATP Tour title in s’Hertogenbosch, beat Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 19 minutes. Travaglia held his first two service games at love and broke serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Mannarino converted his first break-back point for 3-4. Both players held their serve to draw level to 5-5. Travaglia saved a break point, but he made two double faults to drop his serve in the 11th game for 5-6. Mannarino served out the first set on his first point.

Travaglia saved a break point at the start of the second set, but Mannarino converted his second chance.

Travaglia earned two break-back points in the second game but did Mannarino saved them to open up a 2-0 lead. Mannarino went up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman saved a break point in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead and sealed the win on his first match point.

 

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