2014 Season Preview: Simona Halep
The 22-year-old Romanian won the WTA’s Most Improved Player award in 2013, but if anything that was an understatement. Simona Halep went from No. 47 all the way to No. 11 in the rankings; even more impressive was her run of six—yes, six—titles, all of which she won over the second half of the season. Only Serena Williams won more tournaments last year. Halep, who had never won anything before 2013, said the secret to her success, if there was one, was simply enjoying the game more. But even she was surprised by its effectiveness.
Now it’s time for Halep to add some quality to her quantity. While she was tough to beat at smaller events, the same can’t be said for her record at the majors—she lost in the first round at the Australian Open and French Open, the second round at Wimbledon, and the fourth round at the U.S. Open. That should improve in 2014, when she’ll be seeded at each Slam for the first time.
Ad-In: Halep may have only won smaller events, but she took out some big-name players, including Petra Kvitova, Jelena Jankovic, and Caroline Wozniacki. Being seeded at the majors should give her a chance to do it again, on a bigger stage.
Ad-Out: Halep was the hunter in 2013; she played relaxed tennis, with little to lose. In 2014, now that she’s ahead in the race, she’ll become the hunted—while she’s just 5’6”, no one will underestimate her again. If she stops moving up, will she lose the confidence she gained last season?
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.