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Simona Halep Gets Sweet Revenge On Anisimova

Simona Halep produced a sensational display to thrash 2019 nemesis Amanda Anisimova 6-0 6-1 in the third round of the 2020 French Open.

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Simona Halep (@wta on Twitter)

Simona Halep produced a sensational display to thrash 2019 nemesis Amanda Anisimova 6-0 6-1 in the third round of the 2020 French Open.

 

The match could hardly have been any more different to last year’s quarter-final. On that occasion, the American hammered winners from all over the court to earn a surprise 6-2 6-4 win.

Halep was understandably angry with that loss, and she has since admitted that she got her tactics completely wrong. But she put everything right this time around and showed everyone why she is a two-time Grand Slam champion.

“I think I played really well,” Halep said in her post-match interview on Eurosport. “And I did exactly what I had to. I learned so many things from last year, so I wanted to show myself that I’m able to win a match against her. I’m really happy with the way I played. Even though the ball is really heavy, I’ve been very aggressive.”

She continued, “I love to return, so it’s actually my pleasure to do so many returns in practice and that’s why I felt so confident today. I knew that last year I played very far from the court, so I had to change this and do something with the return. I did well and I think the plan was great for today.”

Halep dominates

Amanda Anisimova (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

Halep took control of the match immediately. She returned aggressively in the opening game and was rewarded with a break when Anisimova made a double fault at 30-40.

The Romanian continued to attack for the rest of the match. But unlike in 2019, the World No.2 mixed up her groundstrokes. She used her full array of different spins, heights and angles to disrupt the American’s rhythm.

This approach worked superbly. Halep completely dominated throughout and she wrapped up victory in just 54 minutes.

The Romanian’s impressive stats are also worth mentioning. She got 72% of her first serves and won 77% of the points behind it. She hit 15 winners and just seven unforced errors. And she won 61% of all the points played on her opponent’s serve. To top it all off, she did not miss a single return in the opening set.

By contrast, Anisimova did not find her range at any stage. She won just 19% of points behind her second serve. And, although she hit 18 winners, their effect was minimal because of the 32 unforced errors she made.

Halep will face Iga Swiatek in the last 16. The talented Pole, 19, has dropped just 13 games during three excellent straight-sets wins at Roland Garros so far. However, she is unlikely to fancy her chances against the Romanian as she lost 6-1 6-0 to her at the same stage last year.

2018 champion is on a roll

Simona Halep (@WTA_insider on Twitter)

Halep extended her unbeaten run to 17 matches when she beat Anisimova. During that time, she has won titles in Dubai, Prague and Rome.

The Romanian is also a picture of contentment on court and in interviews. It is clear that she knows exactly what she wants to do in tennis and in life at the moment.

That is why those who have followed Halep’s career will not have been concerned by her decision to skip the US Open this year. Unsurprisingly, she believes it has worked out well.

“For me it was the best decision to not go to the US Open,” the Romanian said. “I just felt that I needed to stay home. Although I didn’t actually train that much on clay in the five months, I love (the surface), so I feel happy and confident and I really enjoy being here at Roland Garros.”

It also adds to the happy feeling around the Halep camp that she achieved her brilliant win over Anisimova on her coach Darren Cahill’s birthday. The Romanian said in her on-court interview that the victory was a gift for him, and it seems safe to assume that he enjoyed it very much.

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Iga Swiatek Explains How Work With Sports Psychologist Aided Her Rapid Rise

The 19-year-old speaks to reporters for the first time since her Grand Slam milestone in Paris.

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Iga Swiatek (@rolandgarros on Twitter)

Recently crowned French Open champion Iga Swiatek believes work on her mental game was key to her shock run.

 

The 19-year-old Pole stunned the field at Roland Garros as she eased to the title by dropping only 28 games in what is the fewest amount dropped by a female player at the event since Justine Henin back in 2007. En route to the title she beat top 10 players Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin. Prior to the tournament Swiatek was yet to win a title on the WTA Tour and had never gone beyond the fourth round of a major.

Reflecting on her breakout, the teenage rising star believes her work with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz has been pivotal as she encourages other players to follow the same route as her.

“She understands me and she is a sports psychologist, so both on court and off court she is doing, with me, a great job,” Swiatek told The Associated Press.
“The mental side of tennis is really important,” she added.

Swiatek has been labelled as a future star of the sport after winning the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ title. Since then she has steadily risen up the rankings but had never scored a victory over a top 10 player until this year’s French Open. So far this season she has recorded 16 wins on the Tour with 12 of those taking place across the three Grand Slam tournaments.

“I realized that it doesn’t have a good impact on my tennis and I’m not able to play as good tennis on match(day) as on practice (days), so we tried to change that and we did a great job and I’m really happy that the result of that job is (a) Grand Slam,” she commented on working on her mental game.

Speaking about Swiatek’s rise, Abramowicz said she has managed to ‘use her resources and potential magnificently.’ Dr Abramowicz conducted postgraduate studies in sports psychology at SWPS University of Humanities and Social Sciences in Warsaw.

“Iga is very mindful, despite her young age. She has used her resources and potential magnificently. It wasn’t an easy time though,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“What you have seen on television is only a fraction of the work done. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t a metamorphosis, but rather an evolution. The doubles proved very helpful in sticking to one’s routines. Iga withstood excellently the difficulties of this tournament.”

Already the first player from her country to win a major title, Swiatek says her ultimate goal is to win every Grand Slam tournament, as well as a medal at the Olympic Games. Her father is a former rower who participated in the 1988 Olympic Games.

She is currently at a ranking high of 17th in the world.

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Is 19-year-old Iga Swiatek bound for greatness?

Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper tennis columnist James Beck reflects on the potential significance of the French Open women’s final.

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Paris is always magical.

 

The City of Love must be.

Iga Swiatek is the French Open women’s singles champion.

Always talented, always athletic.

But until this fortnight the Polish 19-year-old had never demonstrated any true greatness in  women’s tennis. All of a sudden now, even the great John McEnroe is predicting greater greatness from the latest new star of women’s tennis.

A STRANGE YEAR FOR WOMEN’S TENNIS

What a strange year this is in women’s tennis. Sofia Kenin wins the Australian Open before the coronavirus took over the entire world. Kenin came out of nowhere to achieve this amazing feat.

So, just when it appeared Kenin was ready to keep her amazing success story afloat, another surprise arrived with the name Iga Swiatek. It wouldn’t be real surprising that when this coronavirus disappears, hopefully early in 2021, that Swiatek keeps winning Grand Slam titles. It also wouldn’t be surprising if she retires with just one major title.

Swiatek seems to be just that unpredictable.

DID SHADOWS PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE WOMEN’S FINAL?

Perhaps this time, Swiatek’s glorious day was achieved due to the uncontrollable nature of nature itself. The sun and its shadows appeared to play a major role in how this Grand Slam final started.

Shadows dominated one end of the court at match time on Saturday in the newly covered Court Philippe Chatrier Stadium.

Visibility was dreadful on the TV screen, and it must have been much the same way in Kenin’s eyes when she played the second and third games of the match on the “shadow end” of the court. The 21-year-old American looked out of sorts as if she was playing in darkness and she couldn’t find the ball while falling behind, 3-0.

SHADOWS BRING BACK MEMORIES OF NADAL-SODERLING

The scene brought back memories of Rafa Nadal’s fourth-round match against Robin Soderling in 2009 at Roland Garros. Going into the 2020 final on Sunday against Novak Djokovic, Nadal has suffered only two losses in 88 matches on the red clay of Roland Garros.

Of course, Nadal’s loss to Djokovic in the 2015 quarterfinals at the French Open wasn’t a show stopper, especially when you consider that Djokovic is now slipping up on Nadal’s 19 Grand Slam titles and Roger Federer’s 20 in the all-time major title race.

But for Rafa to lose to the big-hitting Soderling was shocking at the time. Rafa also looked like he was playing in darkness that summer day in 2009. He couldn’t find the ball, either.

KENIN WASN’T NORMAL SELF

Seeing what happened on Saturday in the shadows at Roland Garros, it’s now easier to understand what happened to Nadal that day against Soderling.

Kenin had a miserable day on Saturday. She wasn’t herself, maybe due to the shadows or maybe to her heavily bandaged left thigh. Kenin is a better player than the one audiences around the world saw in her 6-4, 6-1 loss to Swiatek.

FANS FORTUNATE TO CATCH THEM BEFORE THEY BECAME STARS

Watching this French Open women’s final made me acknowledge once again how great it is to reside in a great tennis town that brings the ITF world-wide circuit to your city. It happens all over the world, to large cities and small cities.

Of course, Charleston also has the WTA Tour’s Volvo Car Open where the world’s best current players perform for large crowds of paying viewers.

The ITF Circuit is different.

Swiatek, Kenin and Cori Gauff all played in the $100K ITF tournament at LTP Tennis in Charleston during 2018 or 2019. All free of charge for everyone to view in person or even to enter  the current boundaries of social distancing. Autographs, yes. But autograph seekers were rare for these three young stars even that recently.

James Beck has been the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.

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Iga Swiatek Not Ready To Step Out of The Shadows Of Radwanska Despite ‘Life-Changing’ French Open Win

The teenage sensation is the latest new star of women’s tennis but how good does she think she can be?

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2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek (image via https://twitter.com/rolandgarros)

Poland has a new tennis sensation but Iga Swiatek says she still has a long way to go following her shock run to the French Open title.

 

The 19-year-old has stunned the sport by lifting her first Grand Slam title without dropping a set. Something that was last achieved by Justine Henin back in 2007. In the process she beat top 10 players Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin in what is an impressive run for the former Wimbledon girls champion who had never previously won a WTA title until now.

Now she has shot into the limelight, the new champion is expected to face a surge of interest both home and abroad from the public and sponsors. She is the first ever Polish player in history to have won a Grand Slam title with some predicting her to become an even better player than Agnieska Radwanska. A former poster girl of tennis in Poland who peaked at a ranking high of No.2 and won 20 WTA trophies before retiring in 2018.

“I just feel like I kind of made history. But I still think that Radwanska has achieved a lot because she played at the top level of WTA for, I don’t know, 12 years,” said Swiatek.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to compare us. But I think I have to be really consistent for the next couple years for everybody to name me the best player in Poland because still I have a lot to do. I still think that’s kind of her place.”

Branding her victory over Kenin in Saturday’s final as a ‘life-changing experience,’ Swiatek admits that there is no time for her to be complacent given the recent history of women’s tennis. Since 2017 Kenin, Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and Jelena Ostapenko have all won a major title without previously reaching the quarter-final of a Grand Slam. Within that period, 12 different players have won a major title.

“I feel like I can make progress in most things because I’m only 19,” she said. “I know my game isn’t developed perfectly. Also I think the biggest change for me is going to be to be consistent.’
“I think this is what women’s tennis is struggling with. That’s why we have so many new Grand Slam winners because we are not as consistent as Rafa, Roger, and Novak. That’s why my goal is going to be to be consistent.”

Without a doubt she is on the right trajectory with many players hailing the uniqueness of her game with shots such as her ‘spinny forehand.’ The phrase Kenin used to describe her opponents shot. She gets her athlete mentality from her father, Tomasz, who is a former Rower that competed in the 1988 Olympic Games for Poland. There is also another key element.

In recent months Swiatek has been guided on the Tour by sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz. Throughout the French Open she has spoken openly about the importance of the mental side when it comes to the sport.

“I use everything that my psychologist taught me during a match. For sure I’m doing the biggest work on the court,” she stated
“What is the role of sports psychology in the performance? I think it is a huge role. I can see the difference when I’m mentally prepared and I’m ready to handle the stress, the pressure. I can see the difference where I can’t. That’s why I’m sometimes losing in the first round and sometimes I can win a tournament.”

Swiatek’s approach should also help her when she comes to terms with her newfound fame. Fellow player Osaka has previously spoken about the difficulty of her rapid rise in the sport and being pushed into the limelight following her maiden Grand Slam win. Although the Pole believes she is ready to embrace it.

“I know it’s going to be crazy. I think I’m going to get used to that, it’s not going to be a problem for me,” she said about her new fame. “I don’t’ have a problem with getting attention, with people surrounding me. I think it’s going to be okay for me.”

On Monday Swiatek will rise to a ranking high of 17th in the world.

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