Does Simona Halep's post-Wimbledon dip mean she's setting herself up to peak at the WTA Finals?
“Never.” That was the response of Simona Halep when asked by Sue Barker if she had ever played a better match than the Wimbledon final this year, where she dismantled the great Serena Williams 6-2 6-2.
However since then, the Romanian has won just six matches and has struggled to replicate the form she showed at SW19. She has failed to get past the quarter-final of the five tournaments she has played since August.
This is largely due to the Achilles injury she suffered, which forced her to retire from the quarter-final at the Rogers Cup and her recovery has been difficult. She also sustained a lower back injury which forced her to retire in the third round from the Wuhan Open.
But, she is through to the WTA finals and in this part of our ‘Countdown to Shenzhen’ series, we take a look at the matches since Wimbledon and how she can turn around her form at the last big singles event of the year.
Unforced errors are rising for Halep
The most extraordinary statistic of the Wimbledon final in July was that Halep made just three unforced errors across two exceptional sets against arguably, the greatest female tennis player in history.
But since then, her unforced error count is rising. In the two weeks at Wimbledon, Halep made 119 unforced errors. In her next seven completed matches, without retirement, she made 169 unforced errors.
For someone who relies on her consistency as much as Halep, it is alarming to see how the unforced error count has risen in matches which she was expected to win.
In her most recent match, where she lost in straight sets to Ekaterina Alexandrova, Halep hit just three winners and 16 unforced errors. This is something she will have to change if she is to have any chance of even progressing through the round-robin stage.
She does have a habit of performing when least expected to
The recent form is difficult to assess because of the toll of injuries and the inevitable low she would have felt post Wimbledon, but since 2014, her form at major tournaments has been consistent.
She has made the quarter-finals or better at 13 of the last 24 major tournaments, and despite some shocks such as the US Open, this is a remarkably solid run.
Further to this, there seems to be a sense that Halep is pacing herself for the major tournaments. She has played a maximum of two in the build-up to Grand Slams and has not won the tournament immediately before a major since Shenzhen in 2018, which was followed by the Australian Open.