If after a first set 2-6 loss and down a break 3-2 in the second of yesterday’s Indian Wells final, you’d have said Simona Halep would win, I’d have implored you for a bit of whatever you were smoking.
Though the match may have left some feeling it lacking in quality, incontrovertibly it was emotionally compelling.
While Jelena Jankovic continually jabbered to her box, so much so that she received a warning from the chair umpire, Halep displayed obvious displeasure with her own game. On several occasions, she vented frustration by executing triple racket swipes perilously close to the court surface.
She even tossed her stick at one point. Though I understood the reasons for that behavior, I’d never seen it from her before.
Clearly, she was, how shall I put it, not out of control but definitely, “out of sorts.”
She was at a loss for her “A” game. Hell, I’d be hard pressed to say she even had a solid “B” game. B- maybe, C+ at best. Yet, somehow she managed to claw, scratch and fight from a most precarious trailing position much of the match to ultimately hoist a heavy trophy for this very weighty event.
Jankovic, had a clearly defined game plan. She was determined to leave her comfort zone (defensive counter-puncher) to play a more offensive brand of tennis. She often played inside the baseline, relentlessly moving forward at crucial moments taking points or forcing mistakes from Halep.
And while Jankovic was the clear aggressor, and did indeed execute her plan, Halep made an uncharacteristically high number of unforced errors.
That happens. It’s simply impossible to always have your very best stuff when you need it most. But what Halep showed the world yesterday is that, she never gives up…never!
That will to win, that willingness to fight on regardless of how hopeless the situation appears is a quality that only true champions possess.
If I were ever somehow drawn into a bar-room brawl, Halep was present, and I had an option to pick between a big brawny guy and Halep to help me through the confrontation, Simona would be my selection cause I know, beyond doubt, that she would fight and I mean fight for all she’s worth, to the bitter end.
She’s little but tough,
strong but not gruff.
A big heart in a small frame
hell bent on winning each game.
She’s got guts, panache and immense appeal
She’s Simona, a champion, and clearly the real deal.