By Ros Satar, in Paris
- Simona Halep  def. Alison Riske 2-6 6-1 6-1
- Often criticised for reliance with on-court coaching on the tour and that it lost her the final last year
- Halep reveals how she is learning to solve those problems alone
PARIS, FRANCE – Simona Halep finally played her first round match after four days, but had to show some mental resilience after dropping the first set.
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Simona Halep  def. Alison Riske 2-6 6-1 6-1
One could argue ‘well, what do you expect at this time of year in Paris?’ but even with the strange practice of a half-day schedule on a Sunday, the tournament found that inclement weather pushed back matches and the World No. 1 on the WTA side did not even get start on her first round match until the fourth day of the tournament.
Simona Halep, a two-time finalist and tipped by many to be finely poised to finally gain that elusive maiden Slam looked flat in the early morning (rare) sunshine in Paris. Alison Riske looked very much the brighter as she ripped through the first five games before Halep finally rallied herself enough to get a couple of games on the board.
By the second and third set, she had shaken herself up to be her usual self, dropping just two games on the way to the second round, finally.
She said: “I had a slow start because it’s always tough to start this tournament. It’s a pleasure to come here and to play. So always I feel nervous at the beginning.
“But it was good that I came back so strong. Then I just didn’t think about the result or about the match. I just wanted to relax my arms, because I was moving pretty well also at the beginning, but my arm was very tight and I couldn’t hit the ball as I wanted.
“But then it was much easier, and I felt really well in the end of the match, and that’s the most important for now.”
The On-Court Coaching Debate
When Halep lost the Roland Garros final from being up a set and a break, many pointed to perhaps her over reliance on coaching time-outs with Darren Cahill. In fairness – sometimes they have made for uncomfortable viewing. In Miami in her quarter-final against Johanna Konta, the negativity in her body language and her subsequent loss to the Brit saw Cahill enforce a break between the pair of them.
He was not with her at the start of the clay court season in Stuttgart while she struggled with her internal demons before she finally got herself together to win the Madrid title for a second time. She then revealed they had parted for a short time.
She is not immune to these doubts even now, but here on the Grand Slam stage she has no choice but to figure out how to win on her own – and there was no better time to do that than on Wednesday.
She admitted: “We had many on-court coaching moments, and now I can say I have learned how to come out from a bad feeling on court.
”So today it was a good moment, I could come back alone, by myself. And this makes me a little bit more confident. And also stronger mentally, because I was able to do it alone.
“But always I have my communication with Darren mentally, because I know his advice every time. We know each other since long time now. Tough moments, sometimes I know what to do and I’m able to do, like today.”
Halep plays her second round match on Thursday.
Who will win the Women’s Singles Title at Roland Garros?
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