Simona Halep admits she thought chance had gone before breaking Grand Slam duck with French Open title

Halep happy after she won in Paris to land her first Grand Slam title.
Updated 09 June 2018

Simona Halep admits she thought chance had gone before breaking Grand Slam duck with French Open title

  • World No. 1 finally lands major title at fourth attempt.
  • Come from a set and a break down to claim Roland Garros title.

Simona Halep said she had to be “mentally very strong” to battle back from a set and a break down to end her wait for a Grand Slam title in Saturday’s French Open final.
The world number one admitted that she thought she was destined for a fourth consecutive major final loss when she trailed American Sloane Stephens 6-3, 2-0, before going on to claim a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.
“I felt that and I said, ‘it’s not going to happen again, but it’s okay. I have just to play’, and then I just started to win games,” she said.
Halep had suffered a crushing defeat in last year’s final at Roland Garros, blowing a set and 3-0 lead herself to lose against the attacking Jelena Ostapenko.
But the Romanian said that she managed to use those memories to her advantage, knowing that there was still a way back into the match in her third French Open final.
“I said that last year (it) happened to me, same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match.
“So I said there is a chance to come back and win it. So I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that’s why I could win.”
An incredible fightback ensued, with Halep edging a tense second set before racing to victory in the decider.
But she said that, with the weight of expectation after past failures, she was still feeling the pressure in the closing stages.
“I couldn’t breathe very well in the last game at 5-0. And when I lost the game, I said, ‘okay, I have four more until she gets back’,” added the 26-year-old.
“Last year I was a little bit defensive when I was leading the match, and now I just change it in my mind.
“I said that I have to hit the balls. I have to move and not thinking about the last game. Just every ball, every point.
“So I did it well, and I was very strong mentally to finish that.”
Halep has had to deal with plenty of criticism for being a world number one without a Grand Slam title, but she insisted that holding the top ranking wasn’t a burden.
“For me it was really positive. And the fact that I could be number one in the world last year gave me confidence and gave me a little bit of relief, because I touched something big, something huge, and I just had in my mind to win a Grand Slam after that.”
A junior champion at Roland Garros in 2008, Halep said that it had always been her aim to win the French Open ahead of the other major tournaments.
She lost in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open earlier this year, but joked that she was happy to have lost down under: “But the most important moment was when I won juniors.
“I said that if I will win a Grand Slam in professional tennis, I want it to be the same one. So I’m really happy that I didn’t win Melbourne, actually.”


Jason Day shoots 66, trails by 2 strokes at CJ Cup

Updated 18 October 2019

Jason Day shoots 66, trails by 2 strokes at CJ Cup

JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA : Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn on Thursday when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead after the opening round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.

In the first event of a three-tournament PGA Tour swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An took the lead with a 64 with Joaquin Niemann a stroke behind in second. Day was alone in third place.

Day is hoping Els will choose him as a captain’s pick for the International team against the Tiger Woods-captained US team in December at Royal Melbourne.

“Overall, it’s a great start,” Day said. “I’m excited for the rest of the week.”

He said before his first round that he was still hoping for a Presidents Cup spot.

“It is certainly disappointing not to make the team on my own merits. But it is a reminder that nothing is given to you in this game,” Day said.

“I certainly want to be on the team and believe I can be an asset to the Internationals. Being in my home country certainly gives me an edge and I’ve had some success on the sand-belt (courses) and Royal Melbourne in the past.”

Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot a 69 with an eagle on the 18th, his final hole. Last year’s runner-up Gary Woodland had a 71.

Justin Thomas, who won the inaugural 2017 CJ Cup, shot 68 and Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth each shot 70. Spieth is looking to end a lengthy drought — he hasn’t won since the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale, a span of 54 tournaments worldwide.

“Overall a good way to start. I felt I played a lot better than my score,” Thomas said. “Anytime you play where you’ve won before, it creates a lot of good memories.”

Kevin Na, who won in a playoff in Las Vegas two weeks ago, had a 72 and Sergio Garcia shot 73.

There are 78 players in the no-cut, limited-field event.

The top-ranked Koepka stirred some controversy on Wednesday when he pointed out that Rory McIlroy, his closest challenger for the No. 1 ranking, has not won a major since the American joined the PGA Tour in 2015. He was responding to a question about a rivalry between the pair.

“I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m No. 1 in the world,” Koepka said. “I’ve got open road in front of me. I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour.”