In the quarter finals of Roland Garros in 2017, Simona Halep was still looking for a first Grand Slam title.
However, the Romanian was in a spot of bother in the final eight. After just over an hour Halep who was a finalist in 2014 before losing to Maria Sharapova was 3-6 1-5 down to Eli Svitolina but somehow survived.
It was one of those matches where you can’t believe what’s happened and no matter what from 6-3 5-1 it should have been sealed by Eli.
It reminded me of when a player loses a set 0-6 or 1-6. It’s a situation where your opponent improves and the struggle is to maintain your level and try to remain in then and now. Losing a set 0-6 is as low a level can get so an improvement is there.
The issue in this match for me was that Eli just dropped way behind the baseline. It felt like she had won the match and the drop back was a result of waiting for the win to happen. Instead it was Simona Halep who waltzed around the court and took control and that didn’t allow Eli to move forward at all.
5-1 up and suddenly it’s 5-6 and your trying to save set point.
To make it even worse for Eli she had match point and after the match Halep didn’t even know that she had a match point. The next couple of points went the way of the Romanian who sealed the set on a dead net cord.
This de-spirited the Ukrainian number one completely who too this date is still looking for her first semi-final at Roland Garros.
For me, the first point of the third set outlined the theme for the rest of the match. It was a bizarre serve and volley attempt by Eli and the problem is when you don’t connect with it how you want you are stranded then. The attacking tennis from that deep position on the court seemed a long time ago at this point…
Before you know it, Halep has hit a pretty slow ace out-wide to win the match on a bagel!
It wasn’t meant to be for Halep who lost to Jelena Ostapenko in the final despite being a set up but I feel it really did help her go onto win in 2018, those mental battles she became soo much better at!