*Reem Abulleil sat down with WTA Insider’s Courtney Nguyen and New York Times contributor Ben Rothenberg to dissect Simona Halep’s journey to a maiden Grand Slam title in this five-part video series. Scroll down for parts 2-5.*
Simona Halep’s journey to a maiden Grand Slam title is one that will be discussed probably for many years to come.
After losing her first three major finals, including a heartbreaker to an unseeded Jelena Ostapenko in last year’s French Open where she led by a set and 3-0 before succumbing to the Latvian power player, Halep returned to the scene of her deepest disappointment and rewrote her history in Paris.
A battling three-set win over Sloane Stephens in the Roland Garros final on Saturday saw the world No. 1 finally clinch a first Slam trophy, 10 years after she won the junior title here, and 40 years after Romanian Virginia Ruzici claimed her French Open crown. Ruzici and Halep are the only Romanian women to ever win a Grand Slam title.
I saw down with WTA Insider‘s Courtney Nguyen, and New York Times contributor Ben Rothenberg, to dissect Halep’s Roland Garros success.
In the video above, we discuss Halep’s comeback from 3-6, 0-2 down against Stephens on Saturday, and how she was able to pull it off. Nguyen poses the important question: Did Halep banish her demons from last year’s painful final, or did she actually embrace them?
Rothenberg then points out that Halep is the first Slam-less world No. 1 to claim a first major while holding the top spot. Unlike others in the past, Halep used her ascension to the top of the rankings as a springboard rather than getting weighed down by the fact she was at the summit but with no Slams on her resume. Nguyen also tells us about the great influence of her coach Darren Cahill, who seems to have finally cracked the Simona code.
The outpouring of congratulatory messages we’ve seen on social media from Halep’s peers, pundits and even ATP players and coaches has been undeniable. Nguyen tells us why the 26-year-old Romanian is so well-respected.
Stephens missed a chance of winning a second title in her last three Slams but can walk away with many positives, especially with a runner-up showing on clay, which is a surface she likes, but isn’t necessarily her best. The new world No. 4 went on an eight-match losing streak after winning her first major at the US Open last September. Will she find more consistency after her latest strong outing in Paris?
Finally, we deliberate how Halep will react after checking the biggest item on her bucket list. Will Wimbledon come too soon for her, or will she try and keep her momentum going?
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