Simona Halep (ROU) vs.  Elina Svitolina (UKR)
As fans we will never fully comprehend the pressure felt by these players to perform at a consistently high level every day; furthermore, it is even more mind-boggling when that pressure gets amplified during big tournaments with significant potential ranking changes attached, i.e. the number one ranking or bigger yet, the Grand Slam.
Very few players have handled the pressure of expectation well and even the greatest of players have folded under the pressure at some point in their career. While it may not have been obvious to the fans, people closest to them were fully aware that they cracked under the pressure.
Simona Halep has had the opportunity to become the number one ranked female player three previous times this year and every time she was favored to claim the title and the position as the number one ranked player, she crumbled. Twice that I can recall, she was up a set and a break and managed to lose the match. Today’s performance was dismal. She claimed in her post match interview that she “could not feel the ball”. That is code for “I was so nervous I could not think straight and could not get my body to perform the way that it should”.
In an effort to control the nerves, Halep went to the other extreme, a complete disconnect from everything. The end result, she was soundly beaten by her opponent, 1-6, 1-6. What is disconcerting about this loss was her demeanor the entire match. While I hope it was not a true reflection of what she was feeling, it appeared as if she really did not care if she lost. If she continues to struggle like this with the pressure of becoming number one, perhaps she would benefit from the intervention of a sports psychologist.
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Bing Search (Zimbio)