Simona Halep admits she thought chance had gone before breaking Grand Slam duck with French Open title

Halep happy after she won in Paris to land her first Grand Slam title.
Updated 09 June 2018
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Simona Halep admits she thought chance had gone before breaking Grand Slam duck with French Open title

  • World No. 1 finally lands major title at fourth attempt.
  • Come from a set and a break down to claim Roland Garros title.

Simona Halep said she had to be “mentally very strong” to battle back from a set and a break down to end her wait for a Grand Slam title in Saturday’s French Open final.
The world number one admitted that she thought she was destined for a fourth consecutive major final loss when she trailed American Sloane Stephens 6-3, 2-0, before going on to claim a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.
“I felt that and I said, ‘it’s not going to happen again, but it’s okay. I have just to play’, and then I just started to win games,” she said.
Halep had suffered a crushing defeat in last year’s final at Roland Garros, blowing a set and 3-0 lead herself to lose against the attacking Jelena Ostapenko.
But the Romanian said that she managed to use those memories to her advantage, knowing that there was still a way back into the match in her third French Open final.
“I said that last year (it) happened to me, same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match.
“So I said there is a chance to come back and win it. So I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that’s why I could win.”
An incredible fightback ensued, with Halep edging a tense second set before racing to victory in the decider.
But she said that, with the weight of expectation after past failures, she was still feeling the pressure in the closing stages.
“I couldn’t breathe very well in the last game at 5-0. And when I lost the game, I said, ‘okay, I have four more until she gets back’,” added the 26-year-old.
“Last year I was a little bit defensive when I was leading the match, and now I just change it in my mind.
“I said that I have to hit the balls. I have to move and not thinking about the last game. Just every ball, every point.
“So I did it well, and I was very strong mentally to finish that.”
Halep has had to deal with plenty of criticism for being a world number one without a Grand Slam title, but she insisted that holding the top ranking wasn’t a burden.
“For me it was really positive. And the fact that I could be number one in the world last year gave me confidence and gave me a little bit of relief, because I touched something big, something huge, and I just had in my mind to win a Grand Slam after that.”
A junior champion at Roland Garros in 2008, Halep said that it had always been her aim to win the French Open ahead of the other major tournaments.
She lost in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open earlier this year, but joked that she was happy to have lost down under: “But the most important moment was when I won juniors.
“I said that if I will win a Grand Slam in professional tennis, I want it to be the same one. So I’m really happy that I didn’t win Melbourne, actually.”


Australia crush England to reach World Cup semifinals

Updated 25 June 2019
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Australia crush England to reach World Cup semifinals

  • Finch made exactly 100 in a total of 285-7 before England slumped to 221 all out with 32 balls left
  • The recalled Behrendorff took 5-44, while Starc became the leading bowler at the tournament with 19 scalps thanks to a haul of 4-43

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch hit a hundred before left-arm quicks Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc shared nine wickets as the reigning champions thumped England by 64 runs at Lord’s on Tuesday to book their place in the semifinals of the World Cup.
Finch made exactly 100 in a total of 285-7 before England slumped to 221 all out with 32 balls left.
The recalled Behrendorff took 5-44 — his first five-wicket haul in a one-day international — while Starc became the leading bowler at the tournament with 19 scalps thanks to a haul of 4-43.
For England, who entered the showpiece event as the top-ranked side in ODI cricket, this was a second straight defeat after their shock 20-run loss to Sri Lanka.
The host nation, bidding to win a first World Cup title, can still qualify for the semifinals but they are likely to need to beat at least one of India and New Zealand in their remaining two group games.
“There are teams that you have confidence playing against but I have had plenty of low scores against England as well,” said man-of-the-match Finch.
“It was nipping around first thing. We were as tight as we could be and then took advantage of any width.”
England’s reply saw them lose a wicket off just the second ball of their chase, with the struggling James Vince — only playing because Jason Roy was out with a hamstring injury — bowled by a Behrendorff inswinger.
Starc then took two wickets in nine balls.
Test skipper Joe Root was plumb lbw to an inswinger for eight before England captain Eoin Morgan (four) fell into a hooking trap when a top-edge was held safely by Pat Cummins at fine leg.
Australia, who had lost 10 of their previous 11 ODIS against England, were in complete charge with the hosts now 26-3.
England have surged to the top of the ODI rankings on the back of aggressive run-scoring but the worry for Morgan’s men is that too many of their top-order appear to know only one way to bat. Jonny Bairstow, for example, fell next to a careless hook off Behrendorff before Stokes and Jos Buttler (25) repaired some of the damage with a fifth-wicket stand of 71.
Buttler was well caught by Usman Khawaja, running round and staying just inside the deep square leg boundary off Marcus Stoinis.
Stokes defiantly hit Glenn Maxwell for two sixes in three balls but, shortly before completing his fifty, the all-rounder pulled up with a calf injury.
Starc was brought back to take a key wicket and duly obliged with a thunderbolt yorker, his 18th wicket of the tournament, that ended Stokes’s 115-ball innings of 89, including eight fours and two sixes.
Stokes’s dismissal left England 177-6 in the 37th over and effectively ended the contest. Starc ended the match when he dismissed Adil Rashid.
Earlier Finch, dropped on 15, and fellow opener David Warner (53) came through some testing early overs to share a stand of 123 as too many of England’s pacemen, with the exception of Chris Woakes, dropped short.
The skipper’s exit sparked a late flurry of wickets but Australia had enough runs on the board.
Both Warner, the World Cup’s leading run-scorer, and Steve Smith were booed as they entered and exited the field following their recent return from year-long bans for ball-tampering.
Finch went to his century thanks to a misfield by Woakes but next ball he miscued a hook off Jofra Archer and Woakes held the catch at fine leg.
The skipper faced 116 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes in his second century of this World Cup following his 153 against Sri Lanka.