How does the expression go? If at first you don’t succeed, try , try again! The 2018 women’s single French Open concluded on Saturday, June 9th and the win was well deserved.
This year’s winner was Simona Halep from Romania. Halep, age 26, credits her win to a few calculated changes that helped her achieve her first Grand Slam.
Sloane Stephens, Halep’s competitor, was originally in the lead by a set and a break at 2-0. Turns out, this lead ended up giving Halep an advantage. While starting a game with such a big score gap might discourage some players, Halep told herself to relax, have fun, and not think about the possibility that she might lose.
Halep started the match by trying to win easy points but eventually realized that there are no easy ways to win points. She would have to give this game her all and continue to work hard from start to finish.
Last year Halep was in Stephens shoes. She saw first hand that any game can turn around even if there is a large point deficit. The setback from last year definitely aided Halep in dealing with this year’s situation.
The point lead might have also given Stephens the preemptive realization that she could win a second Grand Slam title. Stephen’s coach, Kamau Murray said, “ I think it was just, when you’re up a set and 2-0 and you see the finish line, you get ahead of yourself.” This is a common thing that happens to many athletes when they get a significant point lead.
The energy of the game started to turn around when Halep began changing tactics by lengthening rallies and reducing her errors. This made Stephens have to work even harder which tired her out. When commenting on the match, Halep’s coach, Darren Cahill said, “Mentally you have to be tough, physically you have to be strong; you need a little bit of luck.”
Many agree that Halep’s coach really helped her improve as a player not only physically but mentally. Cahill became Halep’s full time coach in 2016. Halep’s longtime manager, Ruzici, said that “ She became a much more of a relaxed person” Halep also admitted to working with a sports psychologist to change her negative attitude on the court.
Stephens will rise to from No. 10 to No. 4 after Saturday’s match. Even though Stephens lost she says “I’m glad Simona got her first Slam. It’s a beautiful thing, very special.” Stephens demonstrated sportsmanship and even helped Halep by raising her arms and showing Halep how to hold the victory cup.
Tennis professionals all over the world are congratulating Halep on her well deserved win. Her achievement in the tournament really demonstrates the importance of hard work and perseverance. Even though she is ranked No. 1, she had only won one tournament in the past year. Halep’s victory also makes he the first Romanian woman to win the French Open in 40 years.