Simona Halep, the world No. 4 whose participation in the French Open was questionable right up until the start of the tournament due to an ankle injury, played the match of her life against Elena Svitolina in the quarterfinals, coming back from a huge deficit to win in three sets.
Halep was down 5-0 in the first set, lost it 6-3, went down 5-1 in the second set, came back to win in a tiebreak after staving off a match point, and then handily closed out the third set, 6-0. She chased down ball after ball, played some incredible baseline defense, and coaxed the increasingly frustrated Svitolina into a flurry of unforced errors late in the match. It was the kind of match that she might have given up on a few months ago.
During her quarterfinal match at the Miami Open in March, Halep wasn’t receptive to advice from her coach Darren Cahill, sulked during his pep talk, and lost to Johanna Konta 3-6, 7-6, 6-2.
Cahill, who also coached Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, quit as her coach.
“After Miami, [Darren] stopped working with me because he was upset about that match. It wasn’t because I lost, but because of my attitude and him feeling like I gave up. That’s why I started to work hard on my mentality, and my psychology,” Halep said per the WTA.
But Halep rebounded, reaching the semis at Stuttgart, winning Madrid and making the final at Rome, where she injured her ankle. Her play in Stuttgart was enough to get Cahill back in her corner. From Tennis.com:
“When I finished Stuttgart, he said he saw enough, and he’s ready to come back. I asked him if he wants to come back before Madrid. He said yes, because I improved a lot, and he saw that I really wanted to change that. So the desire that I had in that moment made him come back and just be ready for me.”
“Now I’m happy that I can be positive on court, and I will never be negative, I felt ashamed about what I did.”
She’ll face world No. 3 Karolina Pliskova in the semis.