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Halep continues impressive form

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Originally published on 07/07/17 00:00

The No.2 seed will face former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round at the All England Club for after posting a third straight-sets victory in the opening week, beating Shuai Peng 6-4 7-6(9) with another sterling performance.

Halep may feel most at home on clay but the 25-year-old’s grass court movement has been outstanding en route to the last 16, something she attributes to coach Darren Cahill’s advice that she be more positive on court, in her play and in her mentality.

“It's set in my mind now,” said Halep, who saved a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreak. “When I have these balls, I just go and I try to hit and to take the initiative.

“At set point down I made a volley, so that's very, very rare,” she added with a smile. “But was nice. Yeah, the emotions are positive now in those moments. I played much better when I had to step in and to hit.”

It is three years since Halep backed up her first French Open final appearance with a run to the semis at Wimbledon, when a twisted ankle hampered her chances against Eugenie Bouchard.

But she has fallen prey to the occasional early exit at Grand Slams since then – including a first-round exit at SW19 a year later and back-to-back opening defeats at the Australian Open in the past two seasons.

A frank exchange with Cahill following Halep’s exit in Miami seems to have turned her mentality around. The Australian left her side until Madrid, when she proved she could work in a more positive frame of mind, and the results since their reunion speak volumes.

Most impressive of all, however, has been Halep’s response since Paris, having gone into the French Open final as the favourite.

“I didn't have doubts,” she said of her return to Grand Slam action at Wimbledon. “I was sad, of course. But I was realistic after the match. I saw what I've done less good and what I've done good.

“I think my game is at a very high level in this moment. That upset from the final cannot bring me down. I got just the positives from the clay court season. It's been amazing. Now I'm just positive again and I started again. So I don't have problems that I cannot compete again.”

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