Simona Halep is coming from a season that has given her big satisfactions alongside great disappointments. The Romanian had shown mixed performances during the year, alternating hard fought matches with clear, quick defeats to end fairly good runs.
At the US Open, she will compete as the second seed, and she will be among the players who have a concrete chance to leave New York as the world number 1 in the rankings. Nevertheless, she will immediately find a hard challenge, having drawn Wild Card and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in the first round.
Notable results to date
Halep didn’t record a stellar starting in 2017, with an early loss at Shenzhen Open followed by a first round exit at the Australian Open, by the hands of Shelby Rogers.
She couldn’t record back-to-back wins until Miami, where she reached the quarterfinals, only losing to eventual champion Johanna Konta in a hard fought match.
Her results improved as the clay court season started. After the semifinals reached in Stuttgart, she moved to Madrid to defend her title from the previous year. After an easy opener, she needed three sets to see off both Roberta Vinci and Samantha Stosur, but then she found no struggle to reach the final, where she defeated Kristina Mladenovic to defend her title and to bring home her first (and only) trophy of the year.
In Rome, she achieved yet another good run by reaching the final, with wins over seeds like Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Kiki Bertens, but she surrendered to Elina Svitolina in a final that had been affected by an ankle injury suffered by the Romanian during the match.
Fortunately, the injury didn’t prevent Halep to attend the following French Open. She confirmed her good clay form with a good run that included important wins against players dangerous on the surface like Daria Kasatkina and Carla Suárez-Navarro, and then met again with Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals. From 3-6, 1-5 down, Halep performed a remarkable comeback, winning the second-set tie-break and storming past the decider with a 6-0 score.
In the semifinals, she defeated world number 2 Karolina Pliskova to reach her second major final in career (after the one she reached at the same tournament in 2014). However, this ended with a heartbreaking loss for Halep, who surrendered to underdog Jelena Ostapenko in the final.
Prior to Wimbledon, she played only one warm-up event in Eastbourne, losing to Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.
She recorded the very same result at the Championships, where she fell to home favorite Johanna Konta in a very tight match.
Hard court results leading up to U.S. Open
Halep started her American campaign at the Citi Open, where she reached the last eight but was forced to retire during her match against Ekaterina Makarova, suffering a heat illness.
At the Rogers Cup, she showed a good form by reaching the semifinals without dropping a set, but then she crumbled badly against Svitolina, losing with a double 6-1.
A similar pattern happened at the Western and Southern Open the following week. After a good run to the final, that showed her triumphing in straight sets over players like Johanna Konta and an in-form Sloane Stephens, she suffered a shocking loss to Garbiñe Muguruza, who claimed the title with a 6-1, 6-0 win.
With the Cincinnati title, Halep could’ve become world number one, but she remains forced a few points behind Karolina Pliskova. This marked the third missed chance for a top spot during the year; the first ones had been the Roland Garros final against Ostapenko, and the Wimbledon quarterfinal against Konta.
Best US Open results
Halep’s best performance indubitably happened in 2015, where she reached the semifinals as the second seed and where she could’ve had a big chance for the title after Roberta Vinci shocked 4 times defending champion and world number 1 Serena Williams in the semifinal. However, her loss to Flavia Pennetta in straight sets could easily be counted as one of the hardest losses of her career, as the Italian moved ahead to clinch her maiden Grand Slam title.
She performed a good run in 2016 as well, reaching the quarterfinals, but she couldn’t overcome world number one Serena Williams despite forcing her to a three-set match.
Prior to 2015, Halep’s best performance happened in 2013, where she reached the round of 16 but lost to Pennetta.
Playing as the second seed, Halep surely will start her New York campaign as one of the favorites for the title. Nevertheless, drawing Sharapova in the first round could consist in a very hard challenge for the Romanian, despite the fact that the Russian has suffered multiple injuries during the hard-court season and has only played one match after the Italian Open in May. The Russian, indeed, lead their head to head 6-0, with their last encounter happened at 2015 WTA Finals.
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