Sunday, October 20, 2013

Simona sizzles in Moscow

Simona "Halepeno" Halep won the Kremlin Cup today, defeating 2012 runner-up Samantha Stosur 7-6, 6-2. And why not? Having worked on her game maybe more than anyone on the tour, Halep has gone from being a respectable baseline competitor to an all-court (and all-surface) threat. Oh, she's not tall like 'Pova or Azarenka or large and muscular like Serena, and she's never going to be. But she "thinks big" on the court, and she has added a deceptive power to her groundstrokes.

For example, returning Stosur's serve--a real job for some players--was really not too difficult for Halep, and on several occasions, she used her return of serve to put Stosur on the spot. Halep, in fact, had 18 break opportunities in the match, and--to her opponent's credit--she converted "only" four of them. Also, it was Halep who delivered a consistent second serve, while Stosur struggled with hers.

Not all of the factors were between the white lines, however; some were also between the ears. Going into the final, Halep was 4-0 in finals this year, and Stosur was 5-12 in finals in her career. Each woman has now won five WTA singles titles, displaying extremes in winning patterns. Stosur, of cousse, won the U.S. Open in 2010. The Australian has had an excellent end-of-season run, winning Osaka for the second time, and getting to the final in Moscow.

Stosur was a champion today--in doubles. She and partner Svetlana Kuznetsova took the Moscow title when they defeated 2nd seeds Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 1-6, 10-8. The Moscow title is Stosur's 24th in doubles.

Caroline Wozniacki returned to her winning ways in Luxembourg, defeating first-time finalist Annika Beck 6-2, 6-2. Stephanie Vogt and Yanina Wickmayer won the doubles title. They defeated Kristina Barrois and Laura Thorpe 7-6, 6-4 in the final.


sunny nine said...

I am somewhat in awe of Halep. Maybe that sounds a little extreme but I just so much enjoy her play and the refinements she has made. She is now a favorite of Sogn's (husband) after he saw her oust Wozniacki and Kvitova at New Haven. Granted Petra wasn't on but Halep showed great maturity. Again in Moscow, the maturity came through, although she isn't above talking to herself, sometimes loudly when she makes a mistake ;). Halep was aggressive and kept it up. Her power was not just deceptive in her strokes but also on first serves. She can play from the baseline or come in to hit a winner. She found wonderful angles and her backhand down the line was beautiful and very consistent. Being pessimistic about who is the next "star", I have been waiting for Halep to melt away. But despite some injuries which she needed to recover from, her performance in Moscow may make a true believer out of me. Does anyone know what grip she uses when she plays?

Diane said...

I've been on a "Simona watch" for some time, so I was especially pleased to see her finally break through. There's just nothing to not like about Halep, who reads opponents like books and doesn't appear to fear any of them. Her strokes are beautiful, and she has that Hingis-like strategic gift, but with some surprise power!