Simona Halep got her second win over Elena Rybakina in the third round of the 2021 US Open
Simona Halep conquered a resilient Elena Rybakina 7-6(11), 4-6, 6-3 in an epic third-round match at the 2021 US Open on Friday. This was just the fifth official match for Halep since May this year, as a calf muscle injury had forced her into a three-month-long hiatus from the sport. But she looked at her best for most of the match, and in her press conference later she acknowledged as much.
The first set was decided in a grueling tiebreak where Halep saved three set points and needed seven of her own to finally emerge on the winning side. Rybakina fought back to take the second set, but was unable to break the Romanian’s resolve in the decisive set.
Halep had played against Rybakina in a marathon final in Dubai last year, and so was expecting another battle on Friday. The 29-year-old told the media that she was “super stressed” at the prospect of playing her again, before adding that the victory has reinforced her confidence and self-belief.
“Before the match, I was super stressed, I was nervous,” revealed Halep. “But I fought, and this victory gives me a lot of confidence that my game is coming back and also the fighting spirit is there. So I feel safer on court when I step now. I know that every match is a battle, but if I’m healthy, I’m confident that I can play my game.”Simona Halep defeated Elena Rybakina in a two hour and 25 minute battle
The Romanian also gave an insight into what went through her mind in the first set tiebreak, which lasted 17 minutes. Halep led by 6-2 but squandered four set points, before eventually taking it 13-11.
Halep believes it was her experience which led her to be brave even when facing set points.
“I know from these years of experience that sometimes you have to be brave even if you are down a set point or a match point,” Simona Halep said. “So it worked for me that, and I had in my mind that I don’t have to wait for her mistake. I have just to get to go there and to take the point. That’s why I have been aggressive that point, and was super good.”
The two-time Major champion was also asked to give some advice to younger players who want to make it big in the sport. In response, Halep emphasized how important it is to stick to a schedule and to believe in yourself. She also highlighted the need to work hard every day.
“You have to just stick to the schedule, to believe that there is a chance for you, and to work every day, because sometimes you have days that you cannot go to work that easy,” Halep said. “I think the work is the most important thing in this sport, in every sport. Without work, with just talent, you cannot reach the top. So the work is main thing. Everybody has to work. So, yeah, this is the advice.”
“The level is super high, everyone can win a match”- Simona Halep on the level of competition at US Open 2021
Simona Halep is into the fourth round of the US Open for the first time since 2016
This year, all the top 20 seeds in the women’s draw have made it to the third round of the US Open. The level of competition has only grown with each passing round.
Simona Halep, seeded 12th, was asked to give her opinion on the state of women’s tennis given the strength of the draw at Flushing Meadows. In response, the Romanian joked that every match seemed like a semifinal when she was looking at the tournament schedule.
Halep went on to assert that the level is “super high” and that everyone was “super strong”.
“Actually last night at the dinner we were watching on the schedule, and I was, like, every match is a semifinal,” Halep said. “The level is super high, and now you cannot expect some players to win. So everyone can win the match.””I gave up of thinking who is going to be in the semis and finals, because I like to discuss these things,” she added. “I don’t include myself ever. I just like to, yeah, talk about it. Now I have no idea. Everybody is super strong. The matches are great, in my opinion, for everybody.”
Simona Halep will take on long-time rival and fifth seed Elina Svitolina for a place in the quarterfinals of the 2021 US Open on Sunday.