The Romanian arrived in Eastbourne happy to be back in England. It was a warm-up to Wimbledon and not having to prove anything just play her best was the goal. Simona Halep had just come off of a tough match with a rising star, Amanda Anisimova, a teen who had won her first career WTA title already at the Copa Colsanitas a few months earlier.
The Romanian had gotten to the quarterfinals of the French Open, where she was the defending champ but Anisimova had the weapons. She used them to dismantle the Romanian's game and came out with the victory in straight sets.
She stopped her from getting a second title at Roland Garros and Halep felt the stress. "I feel sad and a little bit upset because I couldn't make my game. I couldn't move normally. I think she played great...I had done everything I could today...It's not bad at all to make the quarterfinals at the grand slam coming as a defending champion...I'm leaving this tournament with positive thoughts."
The pressure was now over for Halep in singles, but Eastbourne held a new challenge if not but coming from the clay to the grass court season and do well. The opening round, Simona Halep had to battle Su-Wei Hsieh, a tough Chinese player who has many slices and spins to wreck her opponents game plan.
Halep was confident and has the answers for all of the rallies and strategies that Su-we could throw. She had won the opener at 6-2, 6-0 intently looked forward to her second-round match with Polona Hercog, a challenging player from Slovenia, who tried to take Halep down in three sets.
The Romanian's game was still on point and the three-setter went to Halep after she showed her dominance and aggression winning the first set 6-1. Despite Hercog tying the second set then winning it 6-4 Halep remained focused and determined.
She leads 4-0 in the decider, on occasion allowing Hercog to take advantage of her through blasting serves and aggressive court tactics. It basically was all Halep towards the end as she won the match 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. The quarterfinal again was the stigma Halep had to endure as she battled with Angelique Kerber.
The German had been on a good streak and was defiant not to let Halep break her. The first set Kerber went up 4-2 but for Halep, her games were much hit and miss as unforced errors disintegrated her first set giving the victory to Kerber.
The second and last set told the tale as Halep gave it all she had but it was Kerber who kept coming up with those last minute winning shots of victory. It was down-the-lines and opening up the court strategies for an easy midcourt put-away.
Halep's ability to predict which way Kerber would go became faulty causing the Romanian to stumble or just be pulled out of position. Kerber's game had been elevated and Halep was feeling the sting of coming up short.
Halep might have gone down to Kerber, but she was all fire and determination until the end to win as many points as possible. She played doubles with her Romanian comrade Raluca Olaru who has made it to WTA singles final in 2009 at the Gastein Ladies and has captured 11 singles and 15 doubles ITF titles.
The two have been successful in going deep into the semifinals at Eastbourne. But it went down to the wire that they were beaten by the team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Kirsten Flipkens at 6-7, 6-2, 10-8. Halep proved to be successful in the end by getting to the quarterfinals in singles and semifinals in doubles at Eastbourne.
Wimbledon will indeed be exciting and challenging. She's gotten warm and used to grass and might very well finish off Wimbledon with a title.