Back in the final, Halep insists: I'm not finished
Match by match, ball by ball. Roland-Garros finalist Simona Halep is taking a businesslike approach to the prospect of winning her first Grand Slam.
Three years after reaching the final here – which she lost to Maria Sharapova - Simona Halep will walk out on to Philippe-Chatrier Court for her first head-to-head contest with unseeded Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday June 10. One of them will leave the court with the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen and, if her composed and determined stance is anything to go by, it is the Romanian who is intent on winning the battle of experience versus youth to seize her first Grand Slam title and the world No.1 ranking with it.
“It's a great feeling. I feel different. I feel like I have more experience. I'm of course happy, but I'm not that excited. I'm looking forward, actually, to play it,” she said after coming through her semi-final against Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
“Today was a great battle. Every point was very important. I felt that on court. I felt that I have to run for every ball. I have to be focused for every ball. So it was good that I could do that in the third set for every, every single ball. So I'm happy with my performance.”
But not yet ready to talk about any elements she is particularly proud of. “I'm not finished.”
Losing only two sets along the way, Halep has nevertheless had matches that have tested and honed her form, and displayed exemplary mental strength. In Carla Suarez Navarro, she swept aside a clay-court specialist. Taken to three sets by Elina Svitolina, a championship contender and the player who denied her a title in Rome, she showed she has the mettle to save a match point and turn the match in her favour. In defeating the second seed Pliskova, she looked businesslike in the athletic, scurrying defensive play she employed to deny the Czech of claiming the world No.1 ranking from Angelique Kerber.
“I have improved a lot in this part. I always had this fighting thing, but now I control it better and I control it on the positive way, so all good,” she said. “I feel good on court, and I feel that my game was pretty strong today and all the tournament. I hope in the final it will be stronger. I need that.”
She expects a similar style of attack from Ostapenko. “I have never played against her. I saw a little bit of her match today. In my opinion [her game] is similar to what I had today. You never know with this kind of player. I have just to stay there for every ball. Every ball is important against them. So I will be there and ready to fight.”
She has said all along that she has never considered herself favourite for the title, but she’s determined to make the most of her opportunity. “I will play for two things: my first Grand Slam and No.1 in the world. It's a big challenge, a big chance. I think I have the game. I have the mentality to win, but it's going be tough. I expect her to give everything she has, to hit all the balls, to play with confidence. But I'm confident, as well. I'm ready to face her, and I'm ready to face another final. If it's going to happen, it’s going to happen, the two things at the same time.”