Simona Halep: Nothing to prove, everything to gain in new WTA season

Simona Halep has proven her quality and earned two prestigious majors, giving her the freedom to pursue further successes that would cement her legacy.

For six straight WTA Tour seasons, Simona Halep has finished the year inside the top four of the world rankings.

She has spent time as number one in the world in each of the last three years.

Halep is a French Open and Wimbledon champion, having won the former in 2018 and the latter in 2019.

With a resume like that, it is clear Halep has nothing left to prove to anyone.

That allows her to enter 2020 in an excellent position. No need to chase ranking points, no reputation to build, no doubts to answer over her major-winning credentials and an opportunity to give complete priority to the Grand Slam events.

Halep, 28, has everything to gain and if she can add further majors that would only serve to add to her legacy.

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The performance she produced in defeating Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 in this year’s Wimbledon final was a masterclass and crowned a tournament where she only dropped one set.

Despite her quality, that level of production on grass was something many respected observers believed she was not capable of.

She had previously fallen victim to an upset against American teenager Amanda Anisimova after reaching the quarterfinals in defence of her French Open title.

But Halep remains a threat on the clay of Roland Garros going forward, having also made the final twice in addition to her 2018 victory.

Any further glory in Paris or at Wimbledon would be hugely welcome, though a hard court is the only surface she is yet to triumph on at major level.

Based on recent years, it seems that would be more likely to arrive in Melbourne than New York.

Halep made the 2018 final of the Australian Open, losing an epic fight against Caroline Wozniacki, who announced her impending retirement this week.

She fell in the fourth round this year, but that was against the great Serena Williams in a battle that went down to the deciding set. Previously, there have been two quarterfinal appearances too.

Serena Williams and Simona Halep

Serena Williams and Simona Halep (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

But at the US Open she is on a miserable run, two straight first-round exits only followed by a second-round elimination this year, home hope Taylor Townsend knocking her out in a thriller.

That formed part of a rather lacklustre second half of 2019, with Halep not making a final after her sensational Wimbledon success.

But having reunited with long-time coach Darren Cahill, 2020 represents a fresh opportunity.

Halep can plan her schedule, fitness and preparation all around those four majors, with her strong past in Melbourne making her one of the top candidates for victory next month.

If she has another year like 2019, with another Grand Slam added to her total, it would be seen as a resounding success regardless of her other WTA Tour results.

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That is because Simona Halep has nothing to prove, but everything to gain.