By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- If Simona Halep breaks British hearts on Tuesday she picks up the World No. 1 spot while still searching for her maiden Slam
- Wimbledon favourite pre-tournament Karolina Pliskova fell in the second round, but stands by to become No. 1 if Johanna Konta beats Halep
LONDON, UK – While the chance to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon once more beckons for Simona Halep, there is more at stake for the gritty Romanian.
New World No. 1 after Wimbledon
Amidst the consternation as to why the last two Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles finalists were scheduled on Court 2 for an enthralling battle of Manic Monday, Angelique Kerber’s hard fought battle with the 2015 finalist Garbiñe Muguruza ended the German’s reign at No. 1.
It is fair to say it has not always been a relaxing state of mind for Kerber who has struggled with the attention, obligations and pressure to maintain her position, both as a defending Slam champion and as the World No. 1.
She explained, after her fourth round loss to Muguruza:
“I think for me now I get so many experience to being the No. 1, now I know how it’s important again. For me to taking time for myself, practicing good, just going out and playing good tennis.
“[It] was completely new for me. But it was a good experience. I will try, of course, to coming back and being one day again the No. 1. But right now I’m really happy that I find my game back. I’m on court playing good tennis again. I think I can still improve it. But of course, I don’t know if the pressure will be less or no. I mean, we will see.”
Halep wants the challenge
As she approached her only warm-up event, after injury hampered her grasss court preparation, Halep admitted that her second attempt to win her maiden Slam title was also mixed with thoughts of securing the World No. 1 spot had she won in Paris.
She said, in Eastbourne: “Before the [Roland Garros] final I was thinking (smiling). Was my next goal, let’s say. Yeah, now that I’m so close, it’s like it’s coming more into my mind and into my soul. I really want to get there. But I’m close but still far. So I have just to take match by match and to do everything I can to be No. 1. It’s going to be a big thing for me.”
Yet we have seen with both Kerber and to some extent the challenges that Andy Murray has faced since clinching the top spot at the ATP’s season finale, it can come across as more of a poisoned chalice. Did Halep really want that?
“Yeah, I want. And I want to face that challenge (smiling)”
As it happens the scenario is quite simple. Halep has to beat Johanna Konta on Tuesday to take over the top spot when the new rankings come out on Monday. Yet a capacity crowd in Centre Court will be cheering for the opposite as Konta is the first British woman to reach the quarter-finals since Jo Durie in 1984, and is bidding to become the first semi-finalist since Virginia Wade in 1978.
With Konta leading on tour event wins in Wuhan and this year in Miami on the way to the title, but with Halep having claimed the most recent honours in the Fed Cup World Group II Play-off in Romania, there is plenty at stake.
Halep and Konta are scheduled third on Centre Court, not before 3:30pm BST on Tuesday.
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