Simona Halep will return to the world’s top 10 for the first time since August 2021 after reaching the final of the National Bank Open.
Halep came from a set down to beat US star Jessica Pegula in the semis and set up a clash with Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia on Sunday.
The Romanian is bidding to win her ninth WTA 1000 trophy and her 24th career title overall.
Halep’s route to the final
Seeded 15th for the tournament, Halep has been in stunning form this past week –– dropping just one set in five matches.
The 30-year-old secured victories against Donna Vekic, Zhang Shuai and Jil Teichmann, before comfortably beating 10th seed Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals.
Facing Pegula in the last four, Halep struggled from the baseline at first but found her rhythm in the second set and soon wrestled the momentum back in her favour.
In the end, the Romanian closed out the match in two hours and 12 minutes – equalling Serena Williams’ record of reaching 18 WTA 1000 finals since 2009.
Speaking afterwards, Halep said: “I changed a little bit the tactics. In the first set, it was a little bit too fast. She was hitting super strong and I didn’t feel the rhythm. Then I just calmed down and I tried to just push her back a little bit more.”
Mouratoglou partnership paying off
In April, Halep started working with Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou and it’s clear the Frenchman has already had an immediate impact.
Mouratoglou coached Williams to 10 Grand Slam singles titles and has also taught the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Gauff.
Halep has worked with a number of different coaches in recent years but stressed that Mouratoglou was the one to guide her back to the top.
“I asked to work with Patrick because I really want to get back to the top, and I felt like he’s the best person to help me to do that,” the two-time major winner said.
“I was lucky that he was actually available to do it with me. I want to get back to the top, and of course, I’m dreaming of another Grand Slam because that’s why I’m working every day.”
Halep achieves top 10 goal
Back in January, Halep admitted she considered retiring from tennis but now feels like she has more to give.
The Romanian finished 2021 ranked 20th in the world and set herself the target of reaching the top 10 by the end of this year.
Simona Halep will return to the Top 10 when the #WTA rankings are updated on Monday.
Halep fell out of the Top 10 on August 9, 2021, ending her remarkable 373-week reign.
She can rise as high as No.6 if she wins #NBO22. pic.twitter.com/ajCLRno3XU— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 13, 2022
“This is the main goal and this is actually the only one goal,” she stressed. “But everything that comes along with it is a bonus and we will see. But the focus is to get back to the top ten.”
Halep had been in the top 10 for a remarkable 373 weeks up until August 2021 and can now rise as high as sixth if she wins the National Bank Open.