April 30, 2021
Simona Halep survived a strange second set against home favourite Sara Sorribes Tormo to keep her immediate ambitions alive in Madrid.
The reigning Wimbledon champion was on the verge of the simplest of victories when everything temporarily fell apart.
And that’s when the noisy Spanish crowd got behind their player and inspired an extraordinary comeback bid.
This is the kind of drama we can’t wait to see at Wimbledon 2021! The crowd will undoubtedly play their part in London too.
And although everything almost turned against her, Halep was just delighted to be playing in front of an excited tennis public once more.
‘The crowd was amazing, I missed them very much!’ she said after coming through a surprisingly severe test of nerve.
Wimbledon’s spectators will be even more numerous and make even more noise, we suspect.
Will you be at Wimbledon 2021 to be part of the most dramatic event of them all?
The bond between spectators and players has never been greater. It’s going to be a special Wimbledon year.
In Madrid we have just seen a similar chemistry. Fans know that the protagonists are not perfect and that makes for some breath-taking entertainment.
Champions are superstars but they are also human and sometimes fragile.
That’s what makes Halep so loveable and that’s what endears her to the Centre Court crowd at Wimbledon too.
Simona took just half-an-hour to win the first set 6-0. She was 5-1 ahead and led 0-30 on the underdog’s serve when she lost concentration.
Halep tightened as she felt the momentum shift. She squandered two match points during the Spaniard’s fightback and lost four games in succession.
Sorribes Tormo is a top-fifty player and perfectly capable of holding her own when she starts to feel confident. So it proved once she found her rhythm.
There were great cheers from the Madrid crowd as they sensed an upset.
A frustrated Simona smashed her racquet into the clay and later suffered a broken string too as she struggled to regain control.
Eventually, however, the strange workings of sports psychology counted against the comeback queen.
Just when Sara had achieved parity it was her turn to tighten and falter.
Sensing this, Halep found fresh composure to close out the match 7-5.
The second set had lasted 42 minutes and had been truly enthralling.
And no one could say that Halep didn’t deserve victory. She fired 21 winners to Sorribes Tormo’s six.
Afterwards Halep admitted: ‘It was a great match, even if I didn’t focus enough in the second set. She came back very strong.’
Simona has won in Madrid twice before and you can’t count her out this year either.
But you can be sure of plenty of thrills and spills from the Wimbledon champion along the way.