Wednesday’s Set Points, French Open 2017 Day 11: Back from the brink, Halep beats Svitolina

Set PointsThe semi-final line-up for the 2017 French Open is all set for Thursday. The match of the day on Wednesday was a thriller on Suzanne Lenglen court between Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina. It was one of those rubbish days where I was live scoring and frequently gasping at the momentum changes that were updating in front of my eyes in the form of numbers… I was longing to watch!

Halep recovered from 3-6 1-5 down and saved a match point in the second set tiebreak to eventually prevail, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0 in two hours and six minutes. For the second day in a row, a player went down 0-5 in the first set and came out on top as the winner!

I’ve seen some highlights but I cannot comment on the match and in particular, how things switched around in the second set. One thing that struck me – many Slam winners often have “the match” where they are on the ropes, close to defeat and even match point down. This was the match for Halep and it has to go down as one of, if not, her best ever win at a Slam. And what a classy match point save as she went closeee to the lines!

I’m gutted for Svitolina – it sounds like she played superb tennis for a set and a half. I was surprised as I thought Halep would win this match quite comfortably but that was clearly a misjudgement. I really liked Svitolina’s outlook after her loss (full press conference linked HERE). There was a shakiness to her voice, but she did smile and I thought she came across as very mature in highlighting the positives that can be taken away from this match. I really hope she can use this experience as a learning curve because I feel like things are starting to click for her.

Simona didn’t even know she faced match point!

In the second semi-final, Karolina Pliskova advanced to her first ever Roland Garros semi-final with a hard fought, 7-6(3) 6-4 victory over Caroline Garcia. From the live scores, it came across as another classic Pliskova match where she won the key points. Credit to Garcia though for a really great tournament and I hope that she will feel more confident about playing on the top show courts in Paris in the future.

Considering how negative she has been about clay and her record at Roland Garros, this is a superb effort from Pliskova to reach the semi-finals and score big ranking points.

The Roland Garros YouTube account has been a big disappointment this year and they’ve barely posted any press conferences, particularly for the WTA. Thanks to those who have shared videos on Twitter. Here are some snippets from Timea’s quarter-final press conference. Her reaction in the first video to how many people showed up for her press conferenceΒ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

If you fancy the whole 28 minutes with Timea then you catch it HERE along with many other press conferences… thanks to Irina on YouTube for posting them :-).

Bacsinszky vs. Ostapenko will be first up on Thursday at not before 3pm local time. I think the match-up could cause Ostapenko some issues as Bacsinszky has plenty of variety and can vary the pace effectively. The key for Bacsinszky is to disrupt Ostapenko’s rhythm because when she’s been on this week, she has been unstoppable! It’s also a new situation for Ostapenko and a first match on Philippe Chatrier. I think there’s a lot going on there so i’m going for Timea.

 

The second semi-final will be contested between Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova – Halep has won four of their last five matches but they haven’t played yet this year and never on clay. It’s generally been a good match-up for Simona and I would guess even more so on clay as she will look to exploit Pliskova’s movement and also absorb and redirect her pace. I’ve already said earlier about Halep having her moment and i’m sticking with her as my third champion pick of the tournament!

 

Halep vs. Pliskova has big implications for world number one after Roland Garros. I’m kind of hoping one of them will do it as I think it’s the best thing for Kerber right now.

Another reminder for those that you use Eurosport to watch the French Open that they are running a survey for their coverage. If you have opinions then this is your opportunity to share them! Prizes are up for grab for those who enter (with a valid e-mail address) – the survey can be carried out HERE.

Good news for Sorana.

And finally, some Petra entry news! Still waiting on confirmation for where she will play during the grass court season.

 

Please note that i’m likely to be busy all day tomorrow so my next post might not be until Friday. Enjoy the semi-finals!

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19 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Set Points, French Open 2017 Day 11: Back from the brink, Halep beats Svitolina

  1. I was 100% sure that Svitolina would beat Halep. And watching the match everything was going as expected and I stopped watching. And then I saw the final score and was like whaaaaaatttttttttttttttttt the f ???????

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    • Yeah I was ready to post my ‘now you can all see what I’ve been saying about Svitolina for so long’ post (which I still can, because she still played like a world #1 in that first set). She just took her foot off the gas enough for Halep to punish her enough into getting negative on herself.

      But as I said in another thread… I think she has all the skills to do well at Wimbledon, if she can continue to play the way she has these past few months. In that first set she was coming in every time she hit a big groundstroke and taking the ball out of the air with some wonderful volleys.

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      • Did you watch the whole match, Andrew? I just found highlights..had to work unfortunately and was following live scores. How was the third set? Did Svitolina give up ? The highlights I saw did show that she was still fighting. Don’t know what to think about the result. I’m curious to see whether she can regroup and will continue to play like a Top 5 player or whether that loss hurt to much.

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      • I watched it, although I had the last half on quiet because I was in work. I wouldn’t say she gave up. It was just a case that she wasn’t really committing and had already succumbed mentally. She wasn’t really trying to be aggressive but then wasn’t buckling down on defense either.
        She did noticeably back off during that second set. It wasn’t a ‘choke’ because Halep deserves way more credit than that. But there were opportunities to follow bigger shots to the net as she had up until that point where she didn’t, or she did and instead of going for the drive volley she was letting the ball bounce and merely redirecting into the open space. Simona is far too good a defender for that to be an effective finish and she was starting to lose those kinds of points after dominating at the net in the first set.

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  2. Been a long time James, hope you’re doing well!

    Sorry you missed the match, it was one crazy game, whichever side you were cheering for. Svitolina played probably her best tennis for about a set and a half, surprising Halep from the get go with her pace and aggressiveness. Yet, the scores, the first 5-0 and the 5-1 in the second didn’t really do justice to the match. It was gritty and fought out, to the point that as a Halep fan, I was saying… whatever happens, it’s a win in my book, as this Simona is fighting till the end, huge mental change. And she did. From 2-0 in the first set, I was gutted by the fact that every game was going to 40-40 and Simona was missing breakpoints left and right. Was almost sure her “mental” will get triggered, negatively. Didn’t happen. She came back for a bit, but not enough.

    Was sure the second set will start going her way, but Elina found her balance again and started winning games, a lot of them “on the edge”, but the second she dipped her level a bit, while Simona was gaining momentum, that was it. I think Simona just totally spaced out of the whole situation, the pressure, went in a “dead or alive” mode and that was it. The third set was more like I expected/hoped for the 2nd to happen. Elina is young and has far less experience than Simo. Losing the second set the way she did clearly affected her. And to be true, experience aside, I’m really not sure which player, WTA or ATP wouldn’t be emotionally troubled after such a turnaround, after you’ve had match points and led 5-1 in the second, serving for match.

    This was an absolutely fantastic game, and Elina, if she keeps her game and consistency up, will rock the WTA pretty soon. I’m just not holding my breath cause I’ve seen a lot of girls these past years getting into T10, T5, then dropping out with poor form or bad play the next year. But the WTA sure needs some spectacular players like her. She has gut instinct, she has decent power, she has “balls” and skills. And I really hope this is the beginning of a nice, productive rivalry between them, as relatively “young bloods”.

    As a side note, my God how many people still doubt Simona… I mean really, yeah she had some bad swings, and she had some luck with her direct top competition dropping form… but really, have a look at the WTA top back in 2014, have a look now. Tell me, who’s still there from the 2014 list? Not the most consistent player, but consistently kicking ass left and right to keep in that top, when needed. Hopefully, she’ll achieve her dream for the junior-senior RG champion double and take #1 on the way. The pride Darren must have felt after this match…

    Cheers!

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    • In fairness, nobody has ever doubted Halep’s talents. It’s her attitude and lack of hunger to win on the biggest stages that have been called into question. It was like after 2014 she simply felt comfortable being the second or third best player in the world. I for one am really glad that Cahill gave her the shake she needed to start going for it.

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      • Andrew, I beg to differ, I haven’t commented in a while because there have been a lot of comments that would have triggered me, as a fan of Simona, so I tried to just enjoy James’ previews and reviews. But, the level of hate for this girl is still only countered by the huge number of votes – higher than any other player – she constantly gets on the polls. Probably a lot of her fans – probably passionate Romanians – just like to follow the conversation and express their faith in her by voting.

        In regards to doubting… I’d say it’s pretty hard to doubt her skills. And to be true, it’s hard to doubt her hunger to win too. If you take a step back and look at it, it’s the hunger that’s been her undoing. She kept putting pressure on herself and kept letting herself down on every basic or minor mistake. Her hunger led to frustration and lack of results. The second she spaced out of that negative mindset, things started to change.

        Off-Simona-topic, I just don’t get how Elina struggled through a part of her – easy – draw to come to life so hard in this match. That tells me she’s still on the young wolf smelling blood mentality, like Simo was in 2013-2014. To keep consistent, she’ll need to step up her game in the “lesser” challenges too, and that comes with game time and experience.

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      • Svitolina didn’t struggle through ‘such an easy draw’. Her first two opponents were previous quarter finalists here and in other Slams and she had superb stats against both, hitting plenty more winners than errors (she hit 25 winners against Shvedova in just 2 sets). Martic is enormously talented and was on a Cinderella run, and again, Svitolina’s stats were positive, despite her obviously being bothered by her back.

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      • Come on, be fair Andrew, Shvedova, Pironkova, Linette, Martic… Not disputing their talent, being at this level is a certification of talent in itself, but you can’t call that a challenging draw for someone who you believe to be champion material. Not one seed in her path, and if it takes such an effort for Halep to beat her, I’m wondering why hasn’t she cleared her path in a more “emphatic” way… I can’t put excuses on apparent injuries. Simona came here with an injury too and was 50/50 at a point. Mladenovic came with an injury too. They all – including Elina – grinded the injury out. My point is, right now Elina is performing with the hunger of the young gun, peaking mostly when facing top players, you know… kill the boss and the rest will run in fear.

        All I’m – long windedly – saying is that she needs more consistency throughout her draws, particularly against players that shouldn’t pose much threat, helps to keep in good physical and mental shape for a 2 week run. Dunno, maybe I’m wrong, but I did not find her path up till today very consistent. And she had great stats cause no on pushed her back. With Simona she kept going for the hardcore shots, and against a player that grinds you out, and on point or another you start missing, and that’s what happened. Many people say Elina choked, she didn’t. She played great and played on the edge. But it’s a double edge sword, when Simo raised her level visibly, Elina started missing big shots. Simple as that. 3rd set, different story. Impossible not to get shaken but a second set like that.

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      • I disagree with you. Shvedova and Pironkova are big match players who are a threat to any player when they’re up for it, as evidenced by their success in slams (in the last 12 months I might add).
        Had Svitolina beaten Halep and then Pliskova, she’d have had one of the toughest routes to a final that any recent Slam winner has. Kvitova didn’t play anyone ranked in the top ten when she won Wimbledon in 2014.
        Seeds in the women’s game can be misleading.

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      • Also Alex, it’s a little hypocritical to complain about Simona not getting the credit and respect she deserves when you’re here trying to do exactly what you dislike seeing to another player.
        The way you feel about Halep being constantly and unfairly criticised is the same way I feel about Svitolina. It doesn’t matter how well she plays or what titles she wins, somebody comes along trying to spoil it with something like “easy draw though”.

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  3. What’s that old tennis saying….”You have to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good.” Halep is in the semi-final, because of the bad collapse of her opponent. With Pliskova gutting out her matches, I think this semi-final is going to be far more interesting than some would believe. Providing either opponent does have an off day. I certainly don’t see it as a shoe in for Halep.

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    • I can see Karolina winning this tournament if she keeps up this standard of play (and I think she will). She isn’t doing much wrong at all at the moment.

      I didn’t see the match between Elina and Simona but I gather that Elina started making a lot of mistakes after she lost the second set, whereas Simona virtually stopped making them (she had just one enforced error in the last set).

      Even though I wanted Simona to win, I found it hard not to feel for Elina in her presser afterwards; her voice was audibly cracking, and it must have been tough going for her (especially in a different language from your own).

      I remember something Dani Hantuchova once said about doing press conferences; they ask you why you lost your match when sometimes you don’t even know yourself, and before you’ve sat down with your coach and discussed it with him (or her).

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      • Tough presser on Elina, I hope she comes back stronger. The way I saw the match it wasn’t a jarring reversal of momentum.

        Simona, kudos to her, was initially overawed by Svitolina’s approach and intensity. But, I could tell Halep was trouble shooting, trying to find a counter point. And being that their play is not too different sometimes, as soon as there was a lull in intensity from Elina as she looked at the finish line, Halep just kept coming into it and basically displaced her. She did what Elina started off doing so well and kicked up her intensity.

        Reminds me of a Justine Henin quote where she said that was basically her approach to opponents, especially those who had her disadvantaged, whether it be in weapons or physique( size or height). She tries to figure out what works and then importantly, take care of those solutions as much she can to the end. It sounds easy, but it seems it requires a tough mindset to constantly execute.

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  4. It was almost a reversal of the score in Italy where Elina won by beating Simona Halep 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the women’s final. I can understand why Elina approached it this way. I just hope this becomes a healthy rivalry so they push themselves to become better and better. It was a very intriguing match-up strategy wise.

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  5. Halep is full of it. Why anyone chooses to suspend their disbelief to what obviously is scripted theater. Do any of you really believe that Svitolina could be that bad? Women’s Tennis is hanging by a thread and there is no way the French open final is featuring two unknown players. Get it?

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  6. Halep is a lucky bird because Svitolina collapsed unexpectedly. I would love to see Ostapenko or Timea plays Pliskova in the final.

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