In May 2013, Simona Halep was ranked down outside the top 60 in the world which meant the Romanian had to play a bit of qualifying for the big Premier events.
Over the years Simona has played some of her best tennis in Rome and 2013 was a special year for her.
Halep was the seventh seed in qualifying in a draw that also had Madison Keys and Garbine Muguruza.
Halep saw off Balducci and Hantuchova to qualify for the main draw. In 2012 Simona showed us how good she could be reaching top 40 but was just inconsistent.
Simona made it to the semi-finals in Rome following some exceptional performances. A 6-1 6-1 victory against Svetlana Kuznetsova opened up her week as a qualifier and then she really battled hard!
Between seeing off Aga Radwanska the fourth seed 6-7 6-1 6-2 and Jelena Jankovic 4-6 6-0 7-5 Halep also saw off 13th seed Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-2.
The semi-finals was where it ended for Halep that year as she ran into an inspired Serena Williams who was having a phenomenal tournament and an exceptional year but it was a week of fantastic performances up to that point.
Despite hovering around 35-65 in the rankings I felt like this week was a big statement in Halep’s early stages of her career. This week said to me that Halep would become a top ten player. Even when she was a set down to Aga and Jelena there was an element of calmness to her game.
Over the years Simona has improved that part of her game and it has made her into a major champion.
Halep finished the year ranked at 11 in the world and in early 2014 cracked the top 10 in the world and hasn’t left it since which is simply insane!
Since then Halep has had some good results in Rome a big one in the semi-finals against Sharapova in 2018 from a set down helped her build up to winning Roland Garros but despite back to back finals in 2017 and 2018 in Rome never won there yet…