Simona Halep races into Wimbledon semi-final with defeat of Anisimova | Wimbledon 2022

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When Simona Halep began this year’s Wimbledon, the 2019 champion was asked how it felt not to be given the honour of opening the tournament, something she had been denied by the tournament’s cancellation in 2020 and by injury in 2021. Halep answered politely and then was told she would just have to win the tournament again. “Not that simple, but I’m going to work for that,” she said with a smile.

The Romanian had just survived a late, brave fightback from Amanda Anisimova to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the third time with a 6-2, 6-4 victory. Halep led by a set and 5-1 but was buckling when Anisimova stormed back and had three points to level at 5-5. It was then that Halep had a quiet word with herself.

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“It was not easy at all because I feel like she played without thinking that she has something to lose, so every ball was really hard hit,” Halep said. “But I refused that she’s going to come at five-all. Even if I was 0-40, I was hard a little bit on myself. I pumped myself. I served very well. I believed I could finish the match 6-4. I really believed it.”

Into the semi-finals for the fourth time, Halep now must really believe she can win the title again. Having considered retirement in late 2021 after an injury-hit year, she rekindled her love for the sport, and her belief, when she hired Patrick Mouratoglou, the former coach of Serena Williams, in March. She has not looked back since.

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“We really connected from first minute,” she said. “As a coach he talks super simple but super powerful. I take everything he tells me super good and positive, and I can actually put in practice. So it’s easy for me to get the information and to display it. He’s positive. He trusted in myself that I still can be a good player. He sent me somehow this confidence, and I started to believe in myself again that I have that chance to be a good player again.”

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That belief was in evidence against Anisimova, a young American who beat Halep when she made the semi-finals of Roland-Garros in 2019 aged just 17. Halep beat Anisimova easily a couple of weeks ago in Bad Homburg and carried over that confidence into their clash on Wednesday, a match played out in front of a cast of sporting heroes in the Royal Box, including David Beckham.

Halep has now won 21 straight sets at Wimbledon and will be favourite when she takes on Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who beat the Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, in her quarter-final. “I’m in the semis, but I’m still far,” she said. “So I will take tomorrow as a new challenge, big challenge, and I will give my best. If there is a chance to win this tournament, I will take it. I will work hard to take it.”

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