Over the next two weeks, the first serve series will be previewing our top male and female players and top returnees as we build up to the first grand slam of the year. We’ll analyze what they’ve got going for them and what they need to do to be successful in 2018.
As we shift our focus from the ATP world number one player to the WTA world number one player, one thing comes to find first, when discussing Simona Halep. She has not won a grand slam title… yet. Will she win a grand slam title… ever? That is ultimately left for time and Simona Halep to answer. What we do know is that Simona Halep needs to work on a few things if she wishes to avoid joining a list of very good WTA players who reached the number one position, but never won a grand slam.
Keys to success:
- Developing a Weapon
- Attitude (Mentality)
Simona Halep is the world number one player at the moment, so she must be doing something right. Actually, she is doing a lot of things right. Her movement is terrific, her groundstrokes are cleanly hit and her serve is pretty solid, for her diminutive stature. What Simona is clearly missing, is a point ending weapon she can go to. Her groundstrokes have great length to them and her movement ensures she has one of the best defensive games on the women’s tour. This has effectively made her a defensive grinder, happy to chase down every shot and elicit mistakes from her opponent. The problem for Simona is that this strategy falls apart when she meets a big hitting girl that won’t miss. When big hitters have thrown down the question “make your own winners or you won’t win”, Simona has almost always failed to live up to the task. A true weapon might just be the difference between a semifinal showing and a piece of grand slam winner’s silverware.
The other important piece of the grand slam puzzle for Halep is her inability to find the inner calm she needs to win that final match at a grand slam tournament. How many times have we tipped Halep to go all the way, only for her to stumble right before the finish line? If Simona is to become more than a number one player without a grand slam title, she needs to believe in herself and trust herself more during the finals.
So far, Simona Halep’s career has been defined by just falling short of greater glory. I don’t see her 2018 being any different unless she figures out a way to believe in herself more and develops a go-to weapon along the way.