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Solid win for Halep. Not a surprising result at all! Strycova hates this matchup, 6-0 H2H without dropping a set now. Halep has no points to defend, so this is a good start for her in her attempt to nab the year end number one ranking for the third time in a row.
 

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Halep gets her 12th set win against Strycova without losing even once. Solid win for her, as expected.
 

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Seemed a lot closer than the final score, but I thought that was the best Simona has looked on HC in a while. Some rustiness, with a lot of FH errors, but she was more dynamic and played smarter than usual. For once, she seemed to make the right decisions on put-aways and drop shots, and wasn't a debacle waiting to happen when coming off the baseline. Barbora tried some S&V and it didn't work. Maybe Simona really did learn something from the Townsend loss.
Next up is Rybakina. Don't know much about her, but looks like another BB, which can be dangerous on these Wuhan courts. On paper, Simona's draw looks good to the SF, but I won't be surprised if she loses to Rybakina or Sabalenka.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Seemed a lot closer than the final score, but I thought that was the best Simona has looked on HC in a while. Some rustiness, with a lot of FH errors, but she was more dynamic and played smarter than usual. For once, she seemed to make the right decisions on put-aways and drop shots, and wasn't a debacle waiting to happen when coming off the baseline. Barbora tried some S&V and it didn't work. Maybe Simona really did learn something from the Townsend loss.
Next up is Rybakina. Don't know much about her, but looks like another BB, which can be dangerous on these Wuhan courts. On paper, Simona's draw looks good to the SF, but I won't be surprised if she loses to Rybakina or Sabalenka.
If Halep plays well I don't think Rybakina can threaten her at all. Halep's 2 wins against Aryna seemed quite convincing as well. Sabalenka will need to peak in order to beat Halep.
 

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Solid win for Halep. Not a surprising result at all! Strycova hates this matchup, 6-0 H2H without dropping a set now. Halep has no points to defend, so this is a good start for her in her attempt to nab the year end number one ranking for the third time in a row.
Technically and tactically Strycova is really an excellent player, and even her strength and fitness is very good compared to her age (over 33) and height (164 cm). She's also a very good doubles player.

Her problem with Halep is that Halep is a MAGNIFICENT returner (only Azarenka was better in her prime), meaning that if Halep can reach a ball, it is quite possible that she can return it, and return it with an aggressive edge. Halep can handle very well any kind of sliced, top-spin, side-spin, changing pace, high or low, short or long balls - this kind of tricks don't work against her (when she's awake).
Strycova has the needed experience against the usual "big hitting big girls", just doesn't have any useful weapon against the players like Halep (for instance, she has a 0:2 balance vs. Svitolina, and 1:8 vs. Kerber).
Halep was playing in experimenting mode. She wanted to play aggressively (this is right), but she was a little rusty and impatient, and made too many errors (compared to her own standards). But in the most important moments her attention was there, and produced very accurate winners.
 

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Seemed a lot closer than the final score, but I thought that was the best Simona has looked on HC in a while. Some rustiness, with a lot of FH errors, but she was more dynamic and played smarter than usual. For once, she seemed to make the right decisions on put-aways and drop shots, and wasn't a debacle waiting to happen when coming off the baseline. Barbora tried some S&V and it didn't work. Maybe Simona really did learn something from the Townsend loss.
Next up is Rybakina. Don't know much about her, but looks like another BB, which can be dangerous on these Wuhan courts. On paper, Simona's draw looks good to the SF, but I won't be surprised if she loses to Rybakina or Sabalenka.
:grin2: Halep should be hungry for the new and huge prizes of finals in Shenzen (record). If Halep will play well, this is promising. With Halep, Serena, Osaka and Andreescu. And with with dark horses Barty and Pliskova. I personally don't see Svitolina doing it, but you never know. Or Konta. Bencic would be a better addition.

To learn what from Townsend loss? Taylor played her best game ever in that match. Of course, Halep could have returned sometimes better. She didn't play her best, but I think she played well against Townsend. It's only her fault she spent 1 month out of tennis, and not just 2 weeks.

Now I feel that maybe she trained a lot for China in this break. What do you think? I just hope so. I just want reconfirmation. Halep winning at least 1 of Wuhan/Beijing and the Finals, would still make her WTA Player of the Year. :nerd: But she disappointed kinda everytime in Singapore before. Let's do China now. :nerd:

PS. Sabalenka just destroyed an opponent and is the reigning champion here.

Technically and tactically Strycova is really an excellent player, and even her strength and fitness is very good compared to her age (over 33) and height (164 cm). She's also a very good doubles player.
When? Now? Because she never threaten the elite.
 

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When? Now? Because she never threaten the elite.
Strycova couldn't threaten the elite because she's too small. Nowadays a short girl can be competitive vs. the elite ONLY if she's having some "secret weapons" against them. In Halep's case this is the dynamic nature of her tennis: she runs very fast, but also moves her opponents relentlessly, while her on-the-run accuracy is much better, thanks to her superior sense for timing. (Lately I learned that Simona in her childhood had to train a lot in the sand of the seaside in Constanta. This explains a lot about how her amazing fitness and movement coordination originated.)

In Barty's case the secret weapon is the combo of her BH slicing and powerful FH shots, this makes her capable of going into attack from defending position.

In CSN's case the secret weapon is her 1-handed BH, combined (again) with a much more powerful FH finishing shot.

Cibulkova's secret was her industry's best FH technique (always playing with the right amount of top spin), and playing VERY aggressively.

Putintseva, Davis, and Gavrilova are trying to follow Cibulkova: BUT they are seeing only Cibulkova's aggression, I'm afraid. (And this is not enough.)

Strycova is more comparable to Errani: technically very good and consistent (good also at the net), but without having developed the needed extra to be able to attack anybody.

It is really interesting, that Halep's attacking style is still relevant (6 years after she introduced it in 2013!), and convince more and more girls to play in that style. For instance, today Svitolina defeated Muguruza, and during the match she clearly wanted to copy Simona's running BH DTL shot (that she suffered against Halep in the Wimbledon 2019 SF a couple of times), and she could make it against Muguruza! (Svitolina is developing - surprise, surprise.)
 

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I don't think she lacked any shots and power at all. I doubt the height was the cause. In the last period of time she abused of these slices. I liked her game before, when it was more flat. I always thought she has potential but never made it.
 

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Halep won a first round match easily :eek:.
 

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I don't think she lacked any shots and power at all. I doubt the height was the cause. In the last period of time she abused of these slices. I liked her game before, when it was more flat. I always thought she has potential but never made it.
If you are short, you cannot win your matches via big serves (Halep included). And this is roughly 1/3 part of modern tennis!

Therefore, if you are short, then you MUST HAVE top-notch defense, otherwise you cannot even dream about becoming a top player.

But defending only is NOT ENOUGH, that only postpones your fate. You must be able to ATTACK SOMEHOW your opponents. Hsieh, for instance, attacks with her VERY SMART AND ACCURATE PLACEMENTS. Strycova attacks with her usual NET SKILLS (possibly picked up with doubles playing), but these alone are NOT ENOUGH in our times, because those who are going to the net too early (without a winning situation) will be counter-attacked with PASSING SHOTS. (Halep was an idiot not doing it well against Townsend.)

So no, Strycova doesn't have a good enough attacking weapon.
Also I SUPPOSE that the BH slices (Barty's weapon combined with FH finishing), and 1-handed BH defense (CSN's weapon combined with FH finishing), or the powerless smart placements (Hsieh's weapon) are all only TEMPORALLY USEFUL WEAPONS, because in a couple of years the top girls can adjust their tennis to them.

THEORETICALLY Cibulkova's top spin FH shots, and Giorgi's powerful shots (especially her short BH CC shots) even at the net are weapons that can be very effective for many more years, but ONLY IF THEY ARE PAIRED WITH TOP QUALITY DEFENSE. (You cannot see too many girls and their coaches thinking this way. Maybe because mostly they are NOT developing the girls in perspective the No.1 position, instead they are satisfied with "weapons" that are useful against only the weaker players.)

By the way: A few years back when Laura Siegemund came back to the tour she brought some fresh air, because she (or her coach) FIGURED OUT an attacking combo: DROP-SHOT, then FINISHING AT THE NET. And she used it RELENTLESSLY, in ABSURD AMOUNT, and it was effective for a while.
 

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Then I guess Townsend is a MAGNIFICENT serve and volleyer. ;)
That day she was pretty damn outstanding. When was the last time you saw a female player win THAT many points at the net?

And yes, to iGOAT, Halep won a first round match easy, weird, I know. Well technically she has done that in the past, but like on clay. Anyway, first win here in 3 years, which is good, also means another 1 pointer is removed from her ranking and replaced by the 105 she's already made here (still has two more, which is probably why she is also planning on going to Moscow after Beijing).

Rybakina next, which she's never played, so that's going to be interesting. And after that most likely Sabalenka (although Bertens could surprise), who she last played back in August 2018 in Cincinnati, ending Aryna's at the time amazing streak against top 10 players.
 

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Then I guess Townsend is a MAGNIFICENT serve and volleyer. ;)
No. She only DISCOVERED (after a while), that Halep was NOT attacking her properly with passing shots, when she "risked" going forward to the net. And then she was smart enough to "risk it". More than a hundred times... This tells a book about how stupid Halep was in that match. (And I'm one of her biggest fans.)

Regarding Townsend: SOMETIMES she can be lucky enough to have opponents as stupid as Halep was in that match. But this alone WILL NOT BE ENOUGH for her to become a stable Top 100 player.
 

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