Halep always gets nervous, but this time on fire to beat Pennetta

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Simona Halep dominated Flavia Pennetta at the 2015 WTA Finals. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – Simona Halep gets nervous – a lot. She also becomes very, very good when she is in a right space.

On Sunday, the opening day at Singapore, she walloped Flavia Pennetta 6-0 6-3.

What a turnaround, as not even two months ago, the Italian whipped the Romanian 6-1 6-3 in the semis of the US Open. Pennetta played fantastic, but Halep wasn’t really there.

This time, she came up firing and she was swirling around the court. Halep jumped on her balls early, she crushed her fabulous backhand down the line, she rolled her forehand and slugged her serves. Pennetta tried hard enough in the second set, but she couldn’t handle her range. Halep knew exactly when to attack and when she knew to back off. This time, she was full of confidence.

Here is the rub though: Halep has looked very shaky at the Grand Slams this year. She reached the quarterfinal of the Aussie Open and then admittedly became scared against Ekaterina Makarova and lost. In Roland Garros and Wimbledon, she went down hard and very early.

But at the US Open, once she reached the second week, she was vicious on court and she wouldn’t give up. She took down Vika Azarenka 6-4 in the third set in the quarters, perhaps their most exciting match of the year. But then when she came on court against Pennetta, her face looked glaced. She wasn’t in the match at all.

“I can say I was a little bit tired,” Halep said in Flushing Meadow. “Also nerves. Was first semifinals of US Open. I beat Flavia before in Miami and I knew that she can play good tennis. I knew that she’s very solid. Maybe that day that we had between the quarterfinals and the day when we played I think wasn’t too good for me. I was very tired after Azarenka match, and then I was like without energy Friday when we played. I just want to take the positive things from that match. I have learned about how to manage the situation when you play semifinals, and I hope to have many more and to pass that bad feeling.”

Why she was nervous was pretty bizarre. In 2014, the world met her for the first time; she reached the final at Roland Garros and she nearly upset Maria Sharapova in three sets. After that, Halep kept climbing up to the top charts, but on the majors, she was completely unpredictable.

Fortunate for her, at the last huge event, she reached the final at the WTA Finals in 2014. She stunned Serena Williams in the round robin, and they faced off again in the final. Williams won, but Halep wasn’t awful

Maybe she can reach the final again. And this time, she won’t be too nervous. However, that’s debatable.

“I need to do final for every Grand Slam, then I will be okay,” she said with a smile. “Every tournament is different. Every tournament I have nerves. Every match I have nerves. For me, it’s normal. But I have just to learn how to manage them. In every match I have different nerves, so it’s tough to explain. It’s just about my inside.”

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