Romania's Simona Halep in action during her semi final match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza.(Pool via REUTERS/)
Romania's Simona Halep in action during her semi final match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza.(Pool via REUTERS/)

Perfect prep: Simona Halep takes 14-match win streak to French Open

Amid all the tumult of the coronavirus pandemic, Simona Halep might very well have found the perfect formula to prepare for the French Open.
By Associated Press | ROME
UPDATED ON SEP 26, 2020 02:37 PM IST

Two months of physical training. Then three months of practice on clay courts. Followed by two straight titles on the red dirt.

Amid all the tumult of the coronavirus pandemic, Simona Halep might very well have found the perfect formula to prepare for the French Open.

When the clay-court Grand Slam tournament begins Sunday, 2018 champion Halep will be on court against 70th-ranked Sara Sorribes Tormo.

“I was very strict to the schedule, and I have worked a lot and I have improved a lot physically,” Halep said of her time at home in Romania during the lockdown. “That’s why I can run, I can feel fit every match. My legs are stronger and stronger, which gives me confidence during the matches, and also on clay it’s (helpful).”

Ranked second but seeded No. 1 at Roland Garros because defending champion Ash Barty is not playing, Halep enters with a 9-0 record since tennis restarted, with titles on clay in Prague and Rome — and a 14-match winning streak that dates to February.

Separated from her Australian coach Darren Cahill for seven months during the pandemic, Halep spent the extended break from competition with her Romanian coach, Artemon Apostu-Efremov.

“First part of pandemic, it was mostly physical, because in Romania we weren’t allowed to do any tennis until 15th of May,” Apostu-Efremov told The Associated Press. “Then when it was possible to go out and play again … all our practice was on clay.

“We’ve been, for a while, on clay,” he said, “and you get more used (to) the bounce, with the angles, and I hope this will be an advantage for her.”

Another possible edge for Halep: She didn’t play the recently concluded U.S. Open, having decided against traveling overseas due to health concerns amid the pandemic. So she wasn’t worn down by a deep run in New York — or even just the travel and jet lag — like many of her main challengers.

At the Italian Open, Halep’s final three matches came against Yulia Putintseva, Garbiñe Muguruza and Karolína Pliskova — all three of whom played at the U.S. Open. Putintseva and Pliskova each retired because of injury after losing the first set to Halep, while Muguruza was methodically worn down over the course of a long three-setter.

With the French Open being rescheduled from its usual May-June slot to late September and early October, cooler and wetter-than-usual weather could play to Halep’s strongpoint: outlasting opponents over long rallies with her fluid movement and improved stamina.

“To play (an) aggressive game against her is going to be quite tough,” Pliskova said. “And she (already) had big success in Paris, so I think she’s going to be one of my favorites to go for the title.”

Halep’s decision to sit out the U.S. Open was made with the same logic she used when she decided not to compete in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics due to concerns over the Zika virus.

“If I don’t feel relaxed mentally about the health, I don’t go,” she said. “So that’s why I didn’t play Olympics few years ago. That’s why I didn’t play U.S. Open. I just feel stressed. And when I feel stressed, I prefer to stay home.”

While virus cases are increasing across France — the number of spectators at the French Open has been dropped to 1,000 per day — Halep clearly feels comfortable in Paris, a city she calls her “favorite.”

Having previously lost two French Open finals, Halep claimed her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros two years ago by rallying from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens. Halep added a second major trophy by dropping only four games against Serena Williams in last year’s Wimbledon final.

So consider Halep, who can reclaim the top-ranking from Barty if she wins Roland Garros again, ready to deal with the expectations of being a favorite.

“She has big expectations of herself,” Apostu-Efremov said. “This is a strange year and everyone has to adapt to the new environment, new conditions, (fewer) spectators. Some do it better, some miss some of this old stuff.”

Halep, it seems, is better prepared than ever.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Tennis - Davis Cup Qualifiers - Croatia v India - Dom Sportova Hall in Zagreb, Croatia - March 7, 2020. India's Rohan Bopanna reacts. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo(REUTERS)
Tennis - Davis Cup Qualifiers - Croatia v India - Dom Sportova Hall in Zagreb, Croatia - March 7, 2020. India's Rohan Bopanna reacts. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo(REUTERS)

'Indo-Pak Express' to be back on Tour, albeit for just Mexico event as of now

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 08:33 PM IST
It will be first time that Bopanna and Aisam, known as 'Indo-Pak Express' will play together since they last competed at the ATP 250 event in Shenzen in 2014.
Close
India's Sania Mirza. File(Getty Images)
India's Sania Mirza. File(Getty Images)

Sania Mirza returns to WTA circuit with win in Doha with Klepac

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 11:15 PM IST
The Indo-Slovenian pair won 6-4 6-7(5) 10-5 against Nadiia Kichenok and Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine in the opening round of the WTA 500 tournament.
Close
Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka: File photo(REUTERS)
Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka: File photo(REUTERS)

After Melbourne loss, Sabalenka vows to be ready for Serena

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 08:48 PM IST
Sabalenka did not drop a set in her first three rounds before going down in three against the 39-year-old American in the fourth last month.
Close
Foreign players pose after their qualifying round matches in Lucknow. HT Photo
Foreign players pose after their qualifying round matches in Lucknow. HT Photo

Saketh Myneni gets top billing for ITF Lucknow event

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 08:33 PM IST
The 33-year-old Myneni, who won a gold medal in mixed doubles and silver in men’s doubles at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, will start his campaign against qualifier and compatriot Ishaque Eqbal.
Close
File photo ofSwitzerland's Roger Federer.(AP)
File photo ofSwitzerland's Roger Federer.(AP)

Djokovic ties Federer's record for most weeks as world No.1

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:42 PM IST
Djokovic's ninth Australian Open title last month guaranteed that he would surpass Federer's record on March 8.
Close
Jennifer Brady: File photo(Twitter)
Jennifer Brady: File photo(Twitter)

Brady loses in 1st match since Australian Open in Doha

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 07:04 PM IST
Brady, who lost to Naomi Osaka in her first major final just over a week ago, made 25 unforced errors against her Estonian opponent.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)

Swiatek builds mental strength with Lego

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 05:53 PM IST
The 19-year-old Pole last year became the youngest woman to win the Roland Garros title since Monica Seles in 1992 and on Saturday picked up the second trophy of her career at the Adelaide International.
Close
Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing(Twitter)
Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing(Twitter)

Argentine Cerundolo wins Cordoba title in first ATP main draw outing

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 01:34 PM IST
The 19-year-old qualifier beat Spain's world number 47 Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0 2-6 6-2 in the final of the claycourt tournament.
Close
India's Sania Mirza in action at the 2020 Hobart International. (Getty Images)
India's Sania Mirza in action at the 2020 Hobart International. (Getty Images)

Sania Mirza ready to rebuild after Covid-19 recovery

By Rutvick Mehta, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:41 PM IST
  • India’s former world doubles No.1 looks at her season ahead with Tokyo Olympics an added motivation.
Close
Alexei Popyrin of Australia holds the winner's trophy. (Getty Images)
Alexei Popyrin of Australia holds the winner's trophy. (Getty Images)

Popyrin fights back to win maiden ATP title in Singapore

Reuters, Singapore
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:10 PM IST
  • Popyrin fired 11 aces and broke serve five times to hand fourth seed Bublik his fourth defeat in a final.
Close
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.(PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY)
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.(PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY)

AITA asks age fraud suspects to produce TW3 tests ahead of Nationals

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:35 PM IST
A group of parents had recently approached the All India Tennis Association (AITA), requesting it to stop over-aged players from competing in lower age categories.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action.(REUTERS)

French Open winner Swiatek beats Bencic in Adelaide final

AP, Adelaide
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 03:39 PM IST
The 19-year-old Polish player did not drop a set in five matches and lost just 22 games all week.
Close
Gilles Simon(Twitter)
Gilles Simon(Twitter)

French veteran Gilles Simon taking a break from tennis tour

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 08:50 PM IST
The 36-year-old Frenchman wrote on Twitter on Friday that mental health is also a concern.
Close
Poland's Iga Swiatek hits a return against Switzerland's Jil Teichmann during their women's singles semi-final match at the Adelaide International tennis tournament in Adelaide on February 26, 2021. (Photo by Brenton EDWARDS / AFP)(AFP)
Poland's Iga Swiatek hits a return against Switzerland's Jil Teichmann during their women's singles semi-final match at the Adelaide International tennis tournament in Adelaide on February 26, 2021. (Photo by Brenton EDWARDS / AFP)(AFP)

French Open champion Iga Swiatek into WTA Adelaide final

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:46 PM IST
The fifth-seeded Swiatek will next play the winner of the semifinal between second-seeded Belinda Bencic and 16-year-old American Coco Gauff.
Close
Tennis - Australian Open - Men's Singles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev speaks to the crowd holding the runners up trophy after losing his final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake(REUTERS)
Tennis - Australian Open - Men's Singles Final - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 21, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev speaks to the crowd holding the runners up trophy after losing his final match against Serbia's Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake(REUTERS)

Medvedev gets another shot at No.2 ranking after Nadal pullout

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:18 PM IST
Medvedev rose to a career high third in the ATP rankings on Monday after finishing runner-up to world number one Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. He would have moved above Nadal had he beaten the Serbian.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP