According to player stats, Simona Halep is 1.68 m tall and weighs a mere 60 kg. For metric-system-challenged Americans (most of us), that translates to 5′ 6″ and 132 lbs. While that’s not tiny, compared to most female tennis professionals she is most definitely on the smallish side.
But even at a diminutive size, Halep has a very big game. Just ask the women who succumbed to her skills at the Dubai Championships.
In “order of slaughter,” there was Tsvetana Pironkova, Ekaterina Makarova, Caroline Wozniacki and finally, Karolina Pliskova. They’re all taller and heftier than Halep. But if you were to ask them, I’d bet they would swear she’s bigger than she appears.
Well she is, as far as heart goes. What she lacks in size she compensates for with fierce determination, grit and an obvious aversion to losing.
She’s a relentless battler, never goes away, never surrenders.
Throughout the tournament, Halep appeared at times headed for elimination. But somehow, on each occasion, she managed to extricate herself from dire straits. And keep in mind, she was the number one seed. There’s always added pressure when you are expected to prevail.
Just examine results of last year’s Australian open and the number of top players that fell victim to their own nerves once they were in solid position to win and were expected by most, including themselves, to do so.
So far, Halep has proven impervious to nervous “fails.” When her back is to the wall, man, that little lady fights. She’s a very tough out.
The 6′ 1″ cleaning-hitting, ball battering Karolina Pliskova found out just how tough it is to put Halep away. She had multiple ops in the second set in which there were repeated service breaks, to gain the upper hand but was turned back each time.
There could not have been a more tense second set tiebreak. It went back and forth until the very last point. And while Halep failed to serve out the match twice (credit to Pliskova who came up with punishing winners), she didn’t allow that to deter her.
She simply continued to fight.
Ultimately, that tiebreak came down to which player had the most heart.
Pliskova has nothing to be ashamed of. She played a great match, actually a winning one.
But big things often come in small packages. That’s what Pliskova met in the Dubai final-a big player in a small frame.