Championship Match:  Simona Halep (ROU) vs.  Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
Never underestimate the negative impact that pressure can have on one’s game. Halep found that out today much to her dismay. She was the favorite, expected to win against her inexperienced opponent, Ostapenko, who had never won a singles title. She won the first set, was up 3-0 and then everything unraveled. What was at stake for Halep? This was the opportunity to win her first Major title and also become the number one ranked player. She will have to try again at Wimbledon to claim that first Major title; however, number one may not be that far away. She will move up to number two in the rankings when the new rankings come out on Monday.
What does pressure do to one’s body? Let’s start with the tension that you feel and the decreased ability to move freely; add the inability to think clearly and difficulty breathing. While some athletes excel under pressure, many fall victim to the negative aspects of stress. Halep, unfortunately, has struggled to handle the pressure of expectation and today’s loss will be a bitter pill to swallow for a while.
Surprisingly, the player with the least amount of experience was the one who handled the pressure better. Perhaps the fearlessness of youth came to her advantage and allowed her to go for her shots despite the fact that she was 4-6, 0-3 down and victory seemed to be rapidly slipping out of her grasp. You have to find that balance, the balance between calm and ruthless aggression. That’s what the young Latvian did and that’s why she won 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. She claims her first career singles title, which just happens to be a Major.
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