Tennis

Simona Halep: The rising star of the WTA

Halep won on all four surfaces. (©GettyImages)
Halep won on all four surfaces. (©GettyImages).

This year, the WTA Tour has once again had its spotlight firmly shone on Serena Williams as her incredible 11 titles and Grand Slam wins at Roland Garros and US Open saw her end the year as World No. 1. 

Hidden beneath her overwhelming success was a similarly triumphant season, produced by little known Romanian Simona Halep, who this year has won her first six WTA titles in the same year, the first woman since Steffi Graff in 1984, winning  eight, to achieve this feat. 

Her season got off to a shaky start, as she was knocked out in the first round of the Australian Open, similarly she was knocked out of the French Open at the same.

But she had shown signs of form with some big wins in the French Open warm up tournaments, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Jelena Jankovic on her way to the semi-finals in the 2013 Rome Masters.

She was eventually beaten in straight sets by a irrepressible Serena Williams, but the pedigree of the players that she beat suggested big things to come from the Romanian.

They soon followed, as she showed character to bounce back from a disappointing French open to win back-to-back WTA titles, first at he Nürnberger Versicherungscup, where she defeated Andrea Petkovic in the final, to claim her maiden title.

She followed this with victory at the Topshelf Open where she beat World Number 11 Roberta Vinci, incredibly for the loss of just 1 game. She then went on to defeat Kirsten Flipkens (who would go on to impress at Wimbledon) in the final to claim her second title.

In doing so, she became the first Romanian player to win back to back titles on different surfaces. 

Success at a Grand Slam wasn't to arrive at Wimbledon, as despite reaching the Second Round, Li Na stopped her in a game that went the distance, being edged by the Chinese player.

Halep went on to win titles at The Budapest Grand Prix and then her first Premier level tournament at the New Haven Open, defeating the strong Czech player Petra Kvitova in straight sets.

This victory really made the Tennis world take notice, especially as she followed it with a performance reaching the Fourth Round of a Major for the first time. 

Her successful summer didn't stop there however, as she won her second Premier level event of the year, at the Kremlin Cup where she beat an in form Sam Stosur. She then repeated this feat to end her year successfully, winning the Tournament of Champions and her 6th WTA title. 

Clearly, this was successful but why does it prove her credentials? Well because she has moved from Romanian number 2 at 47 in the world, to the Romanian number 1 and world number 11.

In turn, she achieved a feat that no other player achieved this year; winning titles on all four surfaces, which not even Serena Williams can boast. 

At no point did she let the pressure of expectation get to her and back-to-back titles proves that she has a winning mentality.

Her improvement in Grand Slam events proves she can make it on the big stage and leaves her a level to progress from, as she looks to make add to her titles next year. 

It is indisputable that at just 22 she has a big career ahead of her and at number 11, her draws will become far more favourable and I'm tipping her for a good run at either the Australian or US Open, due to her form on Hard courts.

Roland Garros could be an outside chance, as whilst others struggle to adapt to Clay she has won a title on the surface. Her versatility though makes her a constant threat.

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Topics:
French Open
Tennis
Wimbledon
US Open Tennis
Australian Open

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