Halep has her goals in sight

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-10 07:11

Less than a month after fearing she'd broken her ankle, Simona Halep is one match away from winning her first Grand Slam title.

The third-seeded Halep beat No 2 Karolina Pliskova on Thursday to reach the French Open final, where she will face unseeded Jelena Ostapenko.

It seemed unlikely that Halep would even be able to play at Roland Garros after the Romanian tore a ligament in her right ankle during her loss to Elina Svitolina in the Italian Open final.

"I was scared, because they told me it was broken," said Halep, who said she still feels pain during matches.

"I had no idea what it meant, but I refused to accept that I cannot play, so I think I recovered faster mentally because of the positive thinking. I really wanted to be here, so it didn't matter what the scan showed."

Halep, runner-up to Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros in 2014, is a step closer to achieving both her goals after beating Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

The 25-year-old Halep already is guaranteed to move into second in the WTA rankings, but she can replace Angelique Kerber at the top if she wins on Saturday.

"I said earlier that I will play for two things: my first Grand Slam and No 1 in the world," Halep said.

"It's a big challenge, a big chance. I think I have the game. I have the mentality to win, but it's going to be tough. I expect her to give everything she has, to hit all the balls, to play with confidence.

"But I'm confident, too. I'm ready to face her, and I'm ready to face another final. Yeah, it's a big thing. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen, two things at the same time. So it's going to be amazing."

Halep believes she is in a better position now than she was three years ago.

"I have learned many things over the years, not just after that final," she said. "I think I'm a different player ... my game is stronger, and it's different.

"I think more about the game, and I play smarter and more physically.

"I'm much better, and my attitude is more positive. I think I'm much stronger than I was in 2014."

Associated Press

(China Daily 06/10/2017 page11)

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