Iga Swiatek may have only played a handful of Grand Slam events but she has proved to be a tough opponent to break down. After taking the first set 6-3 it left Simona Halep with a mountain to climb. This set by Iga meant that the teenager had won 21 consecutive sets at Grand Slam level.
If anything the former finalist tried to hit the ball too well in the first set. She rightfully respected her opponent but not everything has to be full throttle.
It is small changes, Halep would have been disappointed to have lost the first set 6-3 and sat there thinking at the change over, ‘how do I change this?’ Take spin off.
Halep’s RPM (revolutions per minute) in the first set didn’t drop behind 1712rpm. In the second set she took it way down to 1200 and the same with the third set. She knew that given time the power Swiatek can create can be devastating. She began to ‘roll’ the ball as she said, there was significantly less top-spin which meant less opportunity for Iga to pummel the ball.
Simona Halep is very good at pushing, she pushes the ball around the court well and it became a game of patience for the former world number one.
Simona is happy to put a bit more height on the ball and bide her time, soak up pressure and then pounce. One of my favourite shots of hers is that off-forehand, she lines it up with exceptional disguise on the ball. Is she going to make you run of go back behind?
The feet of Swiatek are covering if Simona goes up the line but she has an eye on the ball and turns it around superbly. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen it and it won’t be the last. We saw it against Serena here in 2019…
2019, Halep lost the match but should have returned to this pattern of play sooner. Halep soaking up the pressure, Serena on the move, Halep goes back behind.
Next up for Simona Halep? A fourth consecutive meeting at a Grand Slam between her and Serena Williams. Halep has won one of their last four meetings but that one was their last at the Wimbledon final in 2019.