6 months after horror attack Kvitova returns with her 20th title!

Once again women’s tennis has produced another inspirational story. Just over 6 months ago Petra Kvitova was the victim to a horrible stabbing in her home with deep lacerations to her left hand and immediately there were concerns over whether she might be able to play tennis again.

The two time former Wimbledon champion was in theatre for 4 hours and then in a cast for just over 8 weeks and initial suggestions were we probably wouldn’t see her till around New York in September but she defied the odds returning last month at Roland Garros and now in her second tournament back since this horrible attack she wins the title in Birmingham, you could not write a more inspirational comeback story.

At the start of the final against Ashleigh she did seem off the boil, maybe it was a bit of nerves to start with her not finding her serve or the lines which she did so well all week but never write off a champion after a slow start as at 2-2 in the second set down 40-0 on Barty’s serve but reacted to break from a unlikely position in the game and from there on in didn’t look back as she went on to seal her 20th career singles title and will now travel down to Eastbourne after asking for a wildcard down on the Devonshire coast before heading to SW19 where you’d have to put her in as one of the favourites!

Welcome back Petra!

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Halep must look forward after Roland Garros defeat!

Simona Halep had her best fortnight of tennis for three years. For the second time in her career the Romanian fought to a Roland Garros final but fell short despite being in a greater position this time around leading by a set and a break but must move on quickly as she can’t afford to look back.

Halep is a player who plays with her a heart on her sleeve which I like to see from a player to show that emotion but it can also become a bad thing as you can quickly become your own worst enemy.

Earlier on in the year Halep around Australia and Indian Wells Halep wasn’t playing well and you could see tensions from he ron court and showed a lot of emotion to her coach but before Madrid she spoke about how it’s behind her and how she is focusing more on court and in Madrid when she won the title she looked sharp.

Unfortunately in Rome it fell short for her after a bad ankle roll and for the first few matches at Roland Garros I was watching and thinking to myself don’t get carried away as she is carrying this injury but throughout the whole fortnight she was professional and composed and even in defeat she stood there like a champion and one day her day will come.

Many players on the tour have made finals and won titles but struggled to find that motivation and confidence and there has been a struggle but she can do it and with the tour so open at the moment opportunity will knock again soon but you cannot look backwards otherwise success may be hard to find.

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Next up for Halep will be Wimbledon, the Romanian doesn’t usually play a warm-up event and after a long few weeks on the clay the rest might do her some good as she looks for her first major title.

Go big and go home (with your first title)

Jelena Ostapenko was never at Roland Garros to make up the numbers. The Latvian was ranked at 47 in the world and 19 when the tournament began now she will be ranked as high as 12 and just turned 20 and what a way to celebrate than with your first career title which is just one of the four majors in the world so no big deal!

Jelena’s style of play is what helped propel her to an unthinkable title in which she hit 299 winners in 7 matches which is unheard of in tennis, Nadal hit 118 in his first 5 matches!

Every match Jelena arrived with a ‘go big or go home’ style of tennis and she did go big from the first to last match and went big, went home but with a Grand Slam title.

There was never any pressure on Ostapenko. With respect she never came into Roland Garros with much expectation on her which brings pressure and as the tournament went on and on she continued to play more freely seeing off Puig, Stosur, Wozniacki, Bacsinzky and Halep on her way to winning the title.

She wasn’t phased by anything and the crowd got behind her and her explosive style of tennis as she went from strength to strength with no fear and this could be the start of something major.

I still don’t feel there will be too much pressure on her which we have seen in the past from young players in her position. She seems to be a young lady with her feet on the ground coached by her mother and former top 20 player Anabel Medina the future does look good for the Latvian who no matter was thrown at her these last couple of weeks in Paris played with a smile on her face!

Well done Jelena!

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Photo credit – Getty Images 

3-6 1-5, Simona Survives!

In her post match interview Simona Halep said she didn’t know she was match point down in the second set tie-break. The Romanian turned her quarter final around in incredible style and deserves a lot of credit for the grit she showed from 3-6 1-5 down in the match to turn it around at the last moment possible winning 12 of the next 13 games to keep her dream of winning her first major alive.

At the same time I do feel for Svitolina who’s game capitulated and it looks like a case of seeing the finish line before it was reached.

The whole tournament so far has shown such a big step in Halep’s mental preparation, guts and determination on the court which she has lacked for a while and even admitted herself a short break from her coach made her realise she needs to be more controlled and composed on the court and what I enjoy seeing come the end of a match is that fist pump from Halep. She doesn’t overreact to winning but she knows it’s a job gone and she is two wins away from her greatest completed job!

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Ruthless Halep wins in style once again!

Former French Open finalist Simona Halep was wasting no time early this morning as she took under an hour to see of top 20 and very tricky opponent in Carla Suarez Navarro winning 6-1 6-1 and continues to impress as the tournament goes on.

Coming into Roland Garros she had injury issues which were affecting her movement but as the week has gone on she continues to impress and was ruthless early this morning not giving away anything on route to her win.

When I think about Simona’s game being on point the backhand and forehand are her main weapons but what makes her tick is the foot work and if she is moving well she is a tough nut to crack and that is visible by the still below.

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The even think about attempting this shot from this position is just mad but this is Halep at her best and the pressure will continue to be ramped up over the coming days as she is now labelled the favourite and by producing shots like this will keep her as favourite!

 

Who will win Roland Garros? I’ve narrowed it down to 9…

Roland Garros is in full swing, the weather has been good, the tennis has been amazing but we are still nowhere near to knowing who will win the year’s second major but who are the contenders?

Elina Svitolina

Svitolina seems to be one of the favourites and that is a lot of pressure to take. She has never been in a final before but has two Premier Mandatory titles to her name this year and is top of the table in the Road to Singapore. The Ukrainian isn’t a player who will let her feet come off the ground and get carried away she will take it match by match and we’ve seen a lot happen so far this week so don’t rule anything out…

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Karolina Pliskova

I don’t think it will be too long before Karolina wins a major but I don’t see it happening in France. I’d love to be proven wrong but I believe there are better clay court players in her last match I didn’t get the game plan as the tournament goes on and you come up against better players chances will need to be taken.

Simona Halep

Injury was a concern after falling in Rome but the Romanian looks fit and so far has been very impressive in her first couple of matches, she seems to be more focused and less frustrated on the court these last few weeks and has her feet on the ground, she has been a former finalist before amazingly three years ago now!

Other contenders…

Venus…

20 years at Roland Garros but never a champion however at the age of 37 nothing looks like stopping her anytime soon!

Kuznetsova…

A former champion back in 2009, Kuznetsova has found some exceptional tennis over the last year and could she etch her name on that trophy once more?

Muguruza…

Last year’s winner who admitted it was the best and worst thing that happened to hear. Her year went down hill after, expectations and pressure got too much and on court confrontations with her coach have been the talking point this year but if the backhand is firing she is a contender.

Wozniacki…

Still searching for that first major, she is back around the top ten but I wouldn’t say she has gotten out of third gear this year it’s been good but not great and it is something she will need to find if she is going to win in Paris, she was in an unforgiving mood against Abanda winning 6-0 6-0 but I wouldn’t write her off.

Radwanska…

With respect, you kind of forget she is playing here in Paris. Since winning the WTA Finals in 2015 it hasn’t happened and I said a while ago tennis moved on and it felt like she stood still and now has a long way to climb. She has eased her way through so far but no top 10 wins this year and just 4 in 19 months it would take something special.

The field is wide open but picking a winner is incredibly tough. Out of the ones above I fancy Svitolina to go far and will be interested in a Svitolina v Halep quarter final but also don’t rule out Mladenovic!

Forehand firing as Halep crushes Cepelova in Paris

After picking up an injury just over a week ago in Rome participation at Roland Garros was in the balance and after being drawn against Jana Cepelova in round one who defeated Halep at Wimbledon a couple of years ago it looked like being a difficult start for the Romanian but it was anything but!

With a few top players missing and early defeats for Konta and Kerber the draw has opened up and the opportunity is there for a first time winner with Halep and Svitolina top of that list.

Halep’s game has come together at the right time especially after a difficult period at Indian Wells but since she has stepped onto the clay court she has played 15 matches on the clay winning 13 and picking up her second title in a row at Madrid.

It was nice to see Halep in full flow yesterday evening she was strong coming forward, her movement at the back of the court and coming forward was exceptional, the backhand gave her safe but effective options but the main point was the forehand.

A lot of Halep’s game does come down to the forehand and it was in full flow against Cepelova and if she can keep it up we are set for an exciting fortnight in Paris.

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This still just shows the forehand in full flow from Halep, the feet are off the ground putting all the power she has behind it but the strike on the ball and the contact she gets with the bottom third of the racket flattens the ball out sending the winner cross-court as she closed out the first set.

Contender?

Most definitely!