Simona Halep is the New #1

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I started following Simona Halep in 2013 and 2014.  I enjoyed watching her scramble and hit well-timed powerful shots.  Her athleticism and hustle have been a big plus to the WTA Tour for multiple years now.  Halep’s runner-up finishes at the 2014 and 2017 Roland Garros events were bittersweet as she was close to breaking the 2014 match open and had the 2017 match in her favor before dropping 3rd set deciders.  This year had the double blow of denying Halep her first major and the #1 ranking.

This week Halep enacted a measure of revenge beating both Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko en route the Beijing final.  Halep’s run to the Beijing final coupled with Garbine Muguruza’s lack of big wins since Cincinnati propelled Halep to the #1 ranking.  Caroline Garcia, who is playing outstanding tennis, clipped Halep in the championship match.

I think Halep’s move to #1 will be more psychologically liberating than is often the case when a player achieves #1 without winning a major.  For one, Halep was a few games away from achieving #1 earlier in the year and failing to ever reach #1 may have haunted her for years to come.  Getting to #1 may be a bit like calling Ghost Busters.  She won’t be haunted by that question and now can pursue hunting a first major title as a more singular goal.  Her game translates well enough on Rebound Ace and grass courts.  I still don’t expect her breakthrough to come in Melbourne or at Wimbledon.  I think Roland Garros is her ideal place for breaking through, but the faster surface in New York might protect her serve a bit more than the hard courts in Australia do.  Either way, congratulations to Simona Halep.

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