The 2019 Australian Open is almost upon us. The top men and women tennis stars are set to battle it out for the year’s first Grand Slam title.
Simona Halep, the current WTA No. 1, will lead a talented group of women in Melbourne this year. Her path to an Australian Open title won’t be easy. She is coming off of a back injury and other top stars, like Serena Williams, have had time to get into top form.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to be confident in Simona Halep’s chances in Melbourne. Here are a few reasons why she will go far at the Australian Open.
Halep Has Unfinished Business
Halep came up just short of winning the title last year, losing in a dramatic final to Caroline Wozniacki. It was the end of a physically and emotionally taxing fortnight which saw her fight through an ankle injury suffered early in the tournament.
It’s reasonable to think that Halep will come into Melbourne with a chip on her shoulder. She will be determined to finish what she started and leave Australia with her second Grand Slam title.
Fitness To Withstand the Heat
It’s no secret that the Australian Open is an incredibly difficult physical test for tennis players. The long matches and brutal heat of the Australian summer cause many players to retire mid-match each year.
Halep has made a reputation for herself as being a relentless, physical tennis player. Her counterpunching style sees her cover all parts of the court to try and wear her opponents down. And if last year is any indication, she has the fitness and stamina to withstand the tests of the Australian Open.
Halep Knows How to Win a Grand Slam
After coming close on a few occasions, Simona Halep finally joined the club of Grand Slam winners last year at the French Open. That experience of playing in big matches and finally breaking through will only benefit her. She will have her hands full, however, as other proven champions, like Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber, will be waiting for her.
Strong Return Game
While her service games can occasionally be shaky, Halep won nearly half of all of her return games in 2018. Considering the number of matches she played last year, that is an impressive stat line. The ability to consistently put pressure on her opponent’s serve will only help Halep succeed at this year’s Australian Open.
Record Against Top Players
Save for Caroline Wozniacki, Halep has a winning record against each other player in the top five of the WTA rankings (Kerber, Naomi Osaka, and Sloane Stephens). If she is going to win the Australian Open, Halep will likely need to defeat one (or more) of these top tennis players.
Serena Williams, the odds-on favorite to win the title, has a winning record against Halep. It will be interesting to see if her recent Grand Slam success will help propel the Romanian over Williams, should they meet.
Simona Halep’s path to an Australian Open title will be anything but easy. This year’s tournament is loaded with talented tennis players and new Grand Slam winners from 2018. However, her form and performance from last year give many reasons to believe that Halep will go far, and possibly even win, this year’s Australian Open.