Simona Halep is into her fifth Grand Slam final of her career. She’s only won once, her maiden title at the French last year. She’ll be up against the greatest tennis player of all time, Serena Williams. Can she play the match of her life to get to her second slam trophy? Maintaining a positive attitude will be key.
Halep tends to get down on herself during crucial moments in a game and lose her temper when she most needs to maintain her composure. It all comes down to belief. Does Simona Halep believe she can defeat the best women’s player in history? Belief is something Serena Williams has in spades.
And how could she not? She holds the record for the most Grand Slams in the Open Era. She is now going for the most of all time, to equal Margaret Court. Serena Williams will enter Centre Court with no doubts and all the confidence in the world.
Halep will need to disrupt Serena’s comfort zone to have any chance of getting to slam No. 2. “If Simona, who is playing in her first Wimbledon final, is going to beat Serena, she needs to serve well and really mix it up.
I would throw in some body serves,” wrote nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova on the WTA website. “Serena likes to step into the return. But you can jam her with a body serve, which she doesn't like.
Serena stands close to the baseline for her return, which makes the body serve more effective because she has less time to get out of the way. That takes away the angle and the power. “I would also advise Simona - though I know this is going to be a tall order - to play down the line rather than going crosscourt.
With crosscourt, you wait for the ball. Everyone cheats crosscourt, but Serena particularly. When you hit crosscourt to Serena she doesn't have to move - she's already there. When you hit down the line to her, she has to move to the ball.
“Simona has to get the first strike because when she's on the defensive, Serena will get closer to the baseline, and it will become that much harder to go down the line. The ball will be getting there too quickly, and Simona will be pushed back, making it harder to time the shot and change the direction”.
Defeating 37-year-old Serena Williams in her most successful slam, on a surface she loves, is probably a tall order. Williams will be the oldest women’s slam finalist in history. Winning a first slam as a mom is a major motivating factor for the 23-time slam champion.
In their 11 outings, Serena has defeated Halep nine times, including their last Wimbledon faceoff in the 2011 second round. Grass hasn’t been Halep’s strong suit in the past, but the 27-year-old said she’s become more comfortable on the surface the last couple of years.
“This week I realized that I have a good chance on grass because I have strong legs, I can open the court,” Halep said after her semifinal win. “The court works for me if I play the right tactic. When the ball is coming to me, now I know what to do with it.
Maybe that’s why. Maybe I feel confident and I’m not scared any more of how the ball bounces”. A second slam would cement her name among the great champions. But can Halep do it? She will need to fight the match of her life. Against a player who fights better than anyone else.