Once again Simona Halep has lost in the first round of a Grand Slam. In what was her 34th major appearance since her main draw debut at Roland Garros this is the 12th time in her career she has fallen in round one.
Now 7 of those losses came before her first major final in 2014 but has lost in the first round of three majors since the beginning of last year so what is lacking for Halep?
Simona’s record over the last few years at Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 events has been exceptional reaching at least the quarter finals in 18 of her last 24 appearances.
I think it is pressure.
Earlier on this year following her defeat in Melbourne and victory in Paris especially the way she was so focused on court I was full of praise for her mental attitude and strength which is something she has taken to another level.
Her tennis in Montreal and Cincinnati was exceptional and when Halep loses a match it feels like she had it on her racket and that was the case against Hsieh at Wimbledon and Bertens in Cincinnati.
However, against Kaia Kanepi for me she looked nervous and if anything comes into tournaments not relaxed.
The intensity is something you need in a major to go but it just feels like she brings the levels up from round one and isn’t relaxing her way into a tournament.
We have seen plenty of times before her and her coach Darren Cahill have heated exchanges on the WTA tour which haven’t helped her in that moment of the match.
Pressure is something that comes great with ranking. Ranked at number one in the world all eyes are on you at every tournament. You are the player everyone wants to beat and if you can get under her skin it can turn quite quickly.
Getting to that stage of relaxing and being one of the top seeds at a major is a tough challenge something only a few have done. Even at Roland Garros the atmosphere felt tense and maybe a little bit more relaxing coming into these tournaments will help.
We saw how intense she was in Montreal and Cincinnati and to then walk away from Cincinnati without the title would have hurt.
What happens now?
Halep still has work to do on the tour. I’d intrigued to see how she is at Singapore at the end of the season and there have been rumours circulating that her and Darren Cahill have ended their partnership however he has taken to Twitter to put these rumours to bed.
He also tweeted over the weekend to say the plan is Wuhan, Beijing and Singapore.