“Just Another Tournament”: Simona Halep on French Open 2020 Expectations

September 22, 2020 12:02 am

We have a new winner in the women’s singles at the Italian Open. Former World No.1 Simona Halep triumphed over defending champion Karolina Pliskova to claim her first title in Rome. This victory marks a significant moment in their rivalry, and Halep couldn’t be more glad. 

We had an exciting match on the cards, but Pliskova was unable to continue after going down 2-1 in the second set. She suffered a left thigh injury which forced her to forfeit the game and hand the victory to Halep. 

Mandatory Credit: Riccardo Antimiani/Pool via REUTERS

These two have been long-time rivals, and this is their 12th H2H meeting. Halep has the most wins, but Pliskova dominated in their most recent matchups. This 6-0, 2-1 victory also marks Halep’s second straight title since tennis tournaments resumed after the hiatus. 

Moreover, this is Halep’s first Italian Open title, after she failed to convert either of her final appearances in 2017 and 2018. But now, the tournament’s #1 seed played great tennis throughout, excelling every opponent she faced.

Mandatory Credit: Riccardo Antimiani/Pool via REUTERS

“I’ve finally won it,” Halep said after her victory. “I love this tournament, and I play well here almost every year – besides last year, of course. I started my rise up the rankings at this tournament in 2013, so I’ve always dreamed of having this title. I’m really happy that it happened today.”

Simona Halep on the 2020 French Open

The Italian Open victory is the perfect confidence booster Halep needs ahead of Roland Garros. Moreover, she is on a 14-game winning streak and looks unstoppable at the moment.

Though the magnitude of competing in Paris is quite different than other tournaments, Simona Halep does not want to add any stress on herself. “It’s just another tournament,” Halep said, talking about the 2020 French Open. “I’m not going to put pressure on myself. I’ve played really well this year with three titles already.”

“I’ve played so much on clay, so I feel confident and happy that I’ll have a chance to play another Grand Slam this year. I’m not going to let myself be bothered by things like the weather. I’ll just be happy to take positives from this tournament and go there smiling,” she further added.

“It’s a dream for everyone to win the Grand Slam tournament from the first day, so it’s my dream as well, but I’m not thinking that far,” Halep continued. “I just want to go there, get used to the courts and the atmosphere, and try to win every match I play. Every match is a battle, so I’ll be ready for it.”

The 2018 Roland Garros champion does not want to get ahead of herself with Italian Open victory. Moreover, she wants to enter the French Open with a calm mind, with no external or internal pressure. Will we see her recreate her magic from two years ago?

Halep takes a cheeky dig at Pliskova over her victory at Rome last year

The Halep-Pliskova rivalry has been a thrilling watch over the years. Their first professional meeting was back in 2015, a game in which Halep emerged victorious. Since then, there have been eleven other occasions where these two have clashed. 

The Romanian registered an emphatic win in Rome, but in the 2019 edition of the Italian Open, it was Karolina Pliskova who took home the title. Thus, after the finals game, Halep mentioned how great Pliskova’s game is, and moreover mentioned the reason why her Czech opponent might have cruised to victory last year.

“She has a strong serve, her forehand and backhand are unbelievable. She has all the shots, and the courts here are maybe a little faster than other clay courts, so that’s why she won last year and is feeling so good,” Halep mentioned. 

Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/Pool via REUTERS

However, Simona Halep had to fight her way to the finals this year. She endured a challenging semi-final matchup against reigning Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza. “I played so many matches here over the years, and I love playing on these courts. I just want to smile now. I’m really enjoying it,” Halep mentioned. 

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