Simona Halep feels confident ahead of her Wimbledon semifinal against Svitolina as her 7/6, 6/1 quarterfinals victory over long-time enemy Shuai Zhang strengthened her connection with the grass court. Despite being the best player in the world a good amount of time, Simona never really excelled on grass courts, where her biggest achievement was the 2014 Wimbledon semifinal lost in favour of Eugenie Bouchard.
Halep now stands in the last four at The Championships and feels like a different person than the one she was five years ago: “It's a new year, new edition, so I would not think about that semifinal. I'm a different person, everything changed.
I have a lot of experience now, I'm more confident, I love grass - it's the first time when I say that. I think it's a big challenge for me the next match, but I will take it like I took every match since I'm here.
I'm relaxed, I'm happy and I'm motivated to win”. Moreover, Simona started to feel better on the green surface: “I started to feel more comfortable on the court. I didn't slide at all this tournament.
I hope it will be the same in the next match. It's a little bit dangerous when you play on grass because the feet are not really stable as they are on hard court or clay court, so that's why I prefer those surfaces.
But now, I started to feel it. To have it in my hands, to have it in my legs and also in my mind which is very important. I could do many things this tournament already to make the court work for me like to play a little bit wider and the ball slides a little bit because it's grass court, so I tried just to adjust myself, my body, to this court.
I feel more confident now. Every time the ball comes to me I feel like I know what to do with it. The Romanian did not have an easy match against the player who beat her in straight sets at the Australian Open and Beijing in 2016.
"I expected her to play so well. She beat me the last two times that we played. I was a little bit nervous before the match, a little bit stressed. I knew that she's going to come and hit the balls very strong." , Halep said in the post-match conference.
And that’s what Zhang did. Halep found herself led with 4-1 in the opening set. “I really believed that I'm still in the set. If the score would have been, like, 5-1, I think the set would have been gone. I just kept motivating myself and believed that I can turn it around” Halep said.
Fortunately for her, Simona found the necessary resources to break Shuai’s serve after saving 4 break points on her own serve to make it 4-2. Halep confessed why she doesn’t like Zhang’s style: "When she hits… the ball doesn't bounce that much.
It's really tough to return. But I kept fighting. I knew that I have to be 100% for every ball, then I will break her rhythm a little bit. It happened in the second set." The second act of the encounter looked like a piece of cake for the former Roland Garros champion as she surrendered just one game.
In the semifinals, Halep will meet Ukrainian Elina Svitolina who kicked-out Muchova in the quarters. The head to head score between the two players is 4-3 for Svitolina. “Every time was tough against Svitolina, so I expect a tough one again.
It's semifinal, so it doesn't matter how many times you have played before or what the score is. You just have to give your best and to try to win” said Halep about meeting Elina in such an important stage.