Usually, the Romanian’s first clay tournament was the Stuttgart Open. But in 2019, because of the exhausting FED Cup matches against Czech Republic and France, Halep decided to skip Stuttgart and start her clay season in Madrid. You can watch the Madrid Masters live online here and follow Simona Halep and the other WTA players in this first, big, clay courts tennis tournament.
Many people know Simona Halep for her good and steady performances on hard courts. That is because the vast majority of tennis events are held on hard courts. But Simona is, after all, a clay player. She won the French Open as a junior and one more time as a professional, this being her only Grand Slam title so far.
Right now, Simona is the best clay female player in the world
Clay is the best surface for her style of play: aggressive baseliner, with powerful shots, just like Nadal. We don’t see her too often attacking at the net. If we look at her career statistics, we can see that she won a lot of clay based tournaments (and keep in mind that the women’s clay season is very short): two WTA Mandatory events (Madrid, twice), and also three finals lost (once in Madrid, two consecutive finals lost in Rome to Svitolina). She was all over the place during the clay season. Oh, we forgot to mention Roland Garros (two finals lost to Sharapova and Ostapenko). From the regular WTA tournaments, she won 4 titles and played 3 more finals on the red sand.
That’s quite impressive, but is she ready for the 2019 clay season? We just don’t know. She played really well in the FED Cup (which was held on clay courts), but apart from that, we have no data. Of course, her results this year are less than the fans expected. One final (lost) and no titles yet. Her main goal for this first half of season is to defend the French Open title.
With a new coach (Daniel Dobre) and obviously without Darren Cahill, this seems like a much harder task than it was to win the Roland Garros in the first place. Getting used to a new coach takes some time and we will probably see a much improved Halep in the coming months. For sure, Cahill was crucial for propelling her to the first place in the rankings and guiding her to the first Slam title.