Oct/20

7

Simona Halep’s Big Crash At French Open

It has certainly been a strange year off-court and at points during the year, the Grand Slam tournaments looked in doubt. While the show must go on, the clay courts of Roland Garros have proved a stumbling block for many this season. The latest casualty of the women’s singles is the world number 2, Simona Halep, who went crashing out of the French Open in the fourth round, at the hands of Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

There was undoubtedly pressure and expectation on Halep to progress to the latter stages – not least after the likes of Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and reigning champion Ash Barty had withdrawn before the tournament got underway. With Barty absent, victory in the Paris Grand Slam would have sent Halep back to the top of the WTA rankings, the first time in over 18 months.

But it wasn’t to be, and instead, the French Open odds for women’s singles champion have been thrown wide open. It took just 68 minutes for the Polish phenom to stun the 2018 French Open winner – and in straight sets (6-1, 6-2), the world number 54 reached the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.

Swiatek is the youngest player left in the tournament, and post-match she gave a very composed interview: “I thought I was playing perfectly. I was so focused for the whole match even I was so surprised that I could do that,” she said court-side.

For Halep, defeat put an end to her 17-match winning streak, during which time, she won both the Prague Open and Italian Open – the latter coming by way of retirement to her opponent – en route to Roland Garros.  The Romanian has won three WTA titles this year, with the first coming in February at the Dubai Championships. But in terms of Grand Slam competition, the French Open was Halep’s best chance at adding to her titles – the most recent of which came at Wimbledon last year.

“I realise that it was a fantastic year with all the tough moments that we all had, so I’m not going to ruin the whole year just for a match,” Halep said.

“Of course, it’s not easy to take it, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career. So, I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow.”

Also in the fourth round, the fifth seed Kiki Bertens was defeated in straight sets to qualifier Martina Trevisan, while the third seed Elina Svitolina, beat her unseeded opponent to progress to the quarter-final – and is the highest ranked star left in the tournament. Swiatek faces Trevisan in the next round (Swiatek won in straight sets).

Not only will there be a new name on the French Open trophy this year, but the likelihood is that at least one woman will be making their debut in a Grand Slam final. The women’s game over the last few years has been particularly open – since the dominance of the Williams sisters – but the early exits by a number of big-name players and omission of others due to safety concerns has thrown the women’s singles title wide open for a new, first time major winner like Danielle Collins, 23 year old Nadia Podoroska or Swiatek. Qualifier Podoroska, from Argentina, advanced to he semifinal by beating Svitolina yesterday in straight sets.

Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova are both still alive in the draw and will mount staunch resistance for the ambitious newcomers.

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1 comment

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 8, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Swiatek looked UNBELIEVABLE vs Halep and has not relented an iota since. Total destruction right now of Podoroska. Swiatek star is born, she will win the final too. She has the potential to be a dominant world no. 1.

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