Halep can actually win Roland Garros again

Simona Halep

It must have rained on Monday in Paris, a beautiful, fascinating place. Last year, at Roland Garros, the now defending champion Simona Halep was in the third set, in the final. She did not back off, as she had in 2014 against Maria Sharapova. Five years ago she was in her first Slam final and she froze and the American/Russia flew away to victory.

It took her four more years to recover at the Slams, but eventually, Halep became more aggressive and she locked it in. Romanian Halep finally won a major, beating Sloane Stephens in three sets.

Can she do it again over the next two weeks? That is a toss-up, because this year, the clay court lover hasn’t won a tournament this season. But Halep is very, very good, and she can run side to side forever, making her always a threat on the dirt.

“[It’s] much better and much easier, because I have the title already. Doesn’t matter anymore what is going to happen,” Halep said. “Everything comes now comes as a bonus. So, I will try just to give my best and to see if I’m able to do it again.”

There are a number of people who can win the event. Not everyone, but maybe 15 other people. Halep said that maybe 10 folks can do it, and she mentioned that Karolina Pliskova and Kiki Bertens are on the cusp of major glor, as they recently won Rome and Madrid, beating Halep in the final.
This season, Halep lost to Pliskova in Miami on the hardcourt. In January, at the Australian Open, she went down hard against Serena Williams in a tough contest in three sets.

The now retired and former three-tim Grand Slam champion and broadcaster Kim Clijsters said that Halep is now without her former coach Darren Cahill. The Aussie Cahill stopped coaching because he wanted to spend more time with his children.

“It’s also going back there without Darren Cahill, how [Halep] talks about it, but it must have a little bit of an impact in a way,” Clijsters told Reuters. “It will be interesting to see for her going back to a place where Darren helped her last year to win her first Grand Slam and then not being there.”

Halep will find out pretty quickly. Today she had to right her ship. She rolled in the first set but Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic pushed her in the second. In the third set, Halep rolled, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Here is a terrific match set for the third round with Kei Nishikori going against Jo Tsonga. Frenchman Tsonga has never won a Slam, but he has gone deep. Obviously, he has been hurt a lot over the past five years, robbing him of too many opportunities. But, when he is on and health,y he can keep finding the answers. Nishikori has also been very good at the majors when he is ambitious, and the Japanese actually likes clay. That has to be a five-setter. Grueling… 

Another good Serbian Laslo Djere, is ranked No. 32, and he won the first round. He is pretty young, and without a doubt, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic is watching him, and I would think that he gives him a little bit advice…

Both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer both won easily on Monday. Nadal is clearly the favorite again, but he might have to face against David Goffin in the third round. That could be fun, at least for a while…
Here is another excellent contest coming up: the 2014 US Open champ Marin Cilic against the 2017 ATP Final winner Grigor Dimitrov. Yes, they are not playing great now, but in Paris, they will dig in for many hours.