2017 French Open player profile: Simona Halep

World number four Simona Halep's participation at the French Open is in doubt, as the Romanian has confirmed there's a 50/50 chance that she will compete due to rolling over her ankle in the final at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia against Elina Svitolina last Sunday.

2017 French Open player profile: Simona Halep
Halep has failed to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open since reaching the final in 2014 (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty)

Former world number two Simona Halep suffered from knee tendonitis at the start of the year. The Romanian struggled for form in the first couple of months of the year. However, when she returned to her favoured clay courts, she's become a totally different player. Unfortunately, Halep rolled her ankle in the final at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Therefore, her participation at this year's French Open is in serious jeopardy.

Notable results to date

The 25-year-old has yet to win 20 matches in 2017 but she has an 18-6 win-loss record. The Romanian began her preparations in the new season for the Australian Open in Shenzhen. She had a tricky first round encounter with fellow former Grand Slam finalist and former world number one Jelena Jankovic. Halep came through that match in three sets but lost to eventual champion Katerina Siniakova in the second round. Halep, a two-time quarterfinalist at the Australian Open lost in the first round. Last year's French Open quarterfinalist Shelby Rogers defeated her in straight sets in emphatic fashion. The former world number two was clearly hampered by injury. It was later confirmed that she suffered from knee tendonitis. Halep returned to Europe, and she recorded her first straight sets victory in 2017 in St.Petersburg over Ana Konjuh. The Croat was a quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows last year. Halep was unable to compete in the quarterfinals due to injury.

Since reaching back-to-back quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 2014 and 2015, Halep has lost in the first round in two successive years (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty)
Since reaching back-to-back quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 2014 and 2015, Halep has lost in the first round in two successive years (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty)

Moreover, she returned to the BNP Paribas Open, where she won the title in 2015. She received a bye in the opening round, and easily handled Donna Vekic in the second round. Unfortunately for Halep, she was no match for eventual semifinalist Kristina Mladenovic in the third round. However, the world number four was able to record back-to-back victories at a tournament for the first time this year at the Miami Open. She defeated Naomi Osaka, Anett Kontaveit and Sam Stosur to reach her second quarterfinal of the year. Her run was halted in the quarterfinals losing to eventual champion Johanna Konta in a three-set battle.

 

Clay Court results leading up to Roland Garros

The 2014 French Open finalist returned to clay courts, after a mediocre hard court campaign. She defeated two Grand Slam quarterfinalists in Stuttgart. Barbora Strycova and Anastasija Sevastova lost in straight sets in the second round, and quarterfinals respectively. However, for the second successive year, she lost to eventual champion Laura Siegemund in the semifinals. Halep returned to the Mutua Madrid Open as the defending champion. She defeated Kristyna Pliskova, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round, and she defeated Roberta Vinci, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2) in the second round. Once again, the Romanian had another three-set struggle in the third round against Sam Stosur. Nonetheless, she overcame the 2011 US Open champion, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her second consecutive quarterfinal on clay. The former second-ranked player in the world cruised past Coco Vandeweghe and Sevastova. Halep faced Kristina Mladenovic in her third final in the Spanish capital. The Romanian defeated Mladenovic in three sets, who was hampered by a back injury but still played scintillating tennis. In the process, Halep became the third player after Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova to win the Mutua Madrid Open twice. She also joined Williams as the only two players to win the title back-to-back.

The Romanian claimed her second consecutive title at the Caja Magica (Photo by Denis Doyle / Getty)
The Romanian claimed her second consecutive title at the Caja Magica (Photo by Denis Doyle / Getty)

Halep had historically struggled at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, after a deep run in Madrid. In 2014 after losing to Sharapova in the final, she would withdraw from the tournament in the third round with an abdominal injury. Halep would fail to win a single match at the Foro Italico in Rome, after losing to Daria Gavrilova in the second round in three sets, last year after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid. Nonetheless, Halep broke that trend in Rome as she defeated Siegemund and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach her third quarterfinals in Rome.

In the quarterfinals, she beat Kontaveit, and last year's French Open semifinalist Kiki Bertens in the semifinals before losing to Elina Svitolina in the final. Halep had a remarkable 14-2 win-loss record on clay ahead of the French Open, and she had a 10-match winning streak. Unfortunately, Halep rolled her ankle in the final and a scan has shown that she has damaged her ankle ligament. It remains to be seen, whether, the Romanian will be fit enough to compete at the French Open.

Halep (left) was in a good position to beat Svitolina (right) until she rolled her ankle which changed the complextion of the match (Photo by Tiziana Fabi / Getty)
Halep (left) was in a good position to beat Svitolina (right) until she rolled her ankle which changed the complextion of the match (Photo by Tiziana Fabi / Getty)


Best French Open result

The 25-year-old advanced to her first Grand Slam final at the French Open, three years ago as the fourth seed.

Halep eased past Alisa Kleybanova and Heather Watson in her first two rounds. She also cruised past Maria Teresa Torro-Flor, and Sloane Stephens to reach her second Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year. Halep defeated 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals in straight sets. Andrea Petkovic fell by the wayside in the semifinals. The Romanian advanced to her first Grand Slam final without dropping a solitary set throughout, which was a remarkable achievement. Halep was unable to defeat Maria Sharapova in the final as the former world number one clinched her second French Open title in three years, and it was the first women's singles final since 2001 to go to three sets. 

Halep (left) was unable to win her first Grand Slam title against Sharapova (right) in 2014 (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty)
Halep (left) was unable to win her first Grand Slam title against Sharapova (right) in 2014 (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty)

How Halep's game translates to the surface

The former world number two's game is perfectly suited to clay. Halep likes to use her movement around the court, to construct a good point, and her forehand is a strong weapon. Moreover, Halep perfectly demonstrated in the final at the Foro Italico against Svitolina, that she possesses a strong backhand. Halep is an aggressive baseliner, and she has the ability to produce winners in defensive positions, similar to Novak Djokovic. It will be a shame if the former world number two has to withdraw from the French Open. She is dubbed as the heavy favourite to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen, with being the in-form player on the red dirt. However, there is some good news as Halep has travelled to Paris and practised.
 

Tennis