Sharapova Denies Halep’s Bid For Number One

Maria Sharapova denies Halep's bid for number one


ROUND ONE: [2] Simona Halep (ROU) vs. [146] Maria Sharapova (RUS)

Halep should have won this match because she was the more in-form player; however, it was not a shock that she lost. Sharapova has won all six previous encounters and although since her return from her suspension her season has been plagued by injuries, she is still a force to be reckoned with on court.

Mentally struggling with the burden of expectation and the threat of becoming number one, Halep has found it difficult to play consistently at the level she is capable of playing. Added to her burden was the task of overcoming a mental block against an opponent she had never beaten. To get Sharapova as her first round opponent was horrible luck.

Yet, she still could have won this match. She made a few costly errors and the biggest error was not moving Sharapova. Perhaps this was due to lack of confidence or her nerves, but she repeatedly fed the ball to her opponent, who gladly enjoyed staying in one place and just hitting forehand winner after winner. Her serve let her down as well and she was constantly beaten down the line by Sharapova’s return.

In a season when Halep should be dominating, she has struggled to produce her best tennis when it matters. The threat of becoming number one seems to have hampered her ability to swing freely. Three previous times she had the opportunity to become number and each time she got close, she faltered. While it was a tough task to expect her to defeat Sharapova, this was her fourth opportunity to claim the number one ranking. With each failed attempt, that goal takes on more mystical power and becomes a huge mental obstacle that the Romanian must overcome.

Sharapova won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and will play Timea Babos in round two.


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