Season snapshot: Simona Halep in 2018

Published by Matt Trollope

Queen of clay: Simona Halep went 16-3 on clay in 2018, including a perfect 7-0 at Roland Garros for her first major title (Getty Images)
We recap Simona Halep’s stunning 2018 season, during which she broke through for her first Grand Slam title and maintained an almost complete stranglehold over the No.1 ranking.

On court

The zenith of Halep’s season came at Roland Garros, where she finally broke through for her first Grand Slam title in her fourth major final (and third in Paris). Trailing 6-3 2-0 against Sloane Stephens, the Romanian roared back to record a stirring triumph. Five months earlier Halep enjoyed a remarkable fortnight at Melbourne Park, advancing to the final after saving match points in epic three-set wins over Lauren Davis (third round) and Angelique Kerber (semifinals) and very nearly toppling Caroline Wozniacki in a compelling final. She seemed motivated by that loss; she would go on to win 24 of her next 29 matches, a run that culminated in her Parisian triumph. After a (perhaps understandable) let-down at Wimbledon, Halep reached back-to-back finals in Montreal and Cincinnati, winning the former for her third title of 2018. Yet she failed to win another match for the year, falling in the first round of the US Open and succumbing to a back injury during the Asian swing that forced her to miss the WTA Finals.

Stats

After 55 matches played in 2018, Halep was:

  • No.1 in return points won (49.6%)
  • No.1 in return games won (48.5%)
  • No.1 in tour-level finals played (6)
  • No.1 in prize money earned ($7.4 million)
  • =No.1 for clay court wins (16, tied with Mertens)
  • 28-7 on hard, 16-3 on clay, 16-4 in three-set matches
  • Ranked No.1 for all but four weeks of the season
  • One of only three players to convert more than 50% of break points (behind Ostapenko, Osaka)
  • Featured in the equal-longest match of the season (def. Lauren Davis, Australian Open third round in 3 hours, 44 minutes)

Quotes

“It’s fine. I cried, but now I’m smiling. Is just a tennis match in the end. But, yeah, I’m really sad I couldn’t win it. I was close again, but the gas was over in the end. She was better. She was fresher. She had actually more energy in the end … but I want to win. I’m still losing and I’m still waiting (for my first major trophy). Maybe the fourth (final) will be with luck.”
– after falling to Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open final

“Definitely without smiling, I couldn’t do this. It’s a special moment. I was dreaming for this moment since actually I started to play tennis. It’s my favourite Grand Slam. I always said that if I’m going to win one, I want it to be here.”
– after triumphing at Roland Garros

“I had Grand Slam (victory) and I had tough matches during Paris. I am tired also mentally. But I think I played well these six months. I played final in Melbourne. Even if it’s long time ago, like five months ago, still all the pressure, all the tension is in my body … I gave everything I had to tennis this period. Now I want just to spoil myself, to be a normal girl, and enjoying life. That’s everything now.”
– keeping perspective after losing to Su-Wei Hsieh in the third round at Wimbledon

Off court

In April, Halep glammed up and appeared on the cover of Elle Romania.

And, confirming her star power in her home country, she was greeted by 15,000 fans at Bucharest National Stadium for her homecoming after winning the title at Roland Garros. The chants of “Si-mo-na! Si-mo-na!” were resounding …

In a bittersweet end to her season in November, Halep and coach Darren Cahill announced they were going their separate ways after four fruitful years together.

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