By Abigail Hinto
(October 2, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA – For sports, where it’s about definitive results, where a win is a win, we do manage to talk a lot about beauty. And tennis is no exception. Simona Halep, with her fluid strokes plays a more aesthetically pleasing game compared to her opponent Thursday, Andrea Petkovic who has more mechanical looking strokes. But was it Halep’s beautiful game that beat Petkovic?
Halep has steadily risen in the rankings since last year with consistent results week in week out, winning several tournaments along the way and getting deep into grand slams. To reach the top of the rankings in tennis, where Halep is now as the No. 2 ranked player in the world, playing well consistently is the name of the game.
However, Halep’s match against Petkovic was the opposite of consistent. One game Halep was playing flawlessly, dictating points and hitting winners all over the court, the next game, out of nowhere, she could no longer find the court with any of her strokes. Flawless game to break, error-strewn game to get broken back. Meanwhile, Petkovic with her mechanical, steady groundstrokes was the more consistent of the two throughout the match. Unfortunately for Petkovic, it was in the two crucial tiebreaks where her game fell apart while Halep managed to steady herself to eventually win 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-6 (1).
So how does one reconcile Halep’s erratic game with her consistent results? The beauty of tennis is the presence of important points. Those pressure situations where as is often the case, the best comes out on top. And that’s what both Halep and Petkovic showed in this match. The better player, the player who ended up winning, was the one who played the two tiebreakers solidly. And in the end, the mercurial Halep managed to reign in her game in time, in those two pressure situations, to get the win. Something she has been doing consistently for over a year now.
Unfortunately for both players, Halep has pulled out of the China Open with a hip injury. Her next opponent, Ana Ivanovic moves on to the semifinals.
“It was a tough match against Andrea today, and I had to fight a lot,” Halep said in a statement. “I’m happy I was able to win and finish the match in the right way, but I have a hip injury and it would be risky for me to play again tomorrow.”
Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.
Photos by Natalie Ho.