By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – After her French Open dreams ended on a sour note, Simona Halep is hoping she can savor a much sweeter ending at Wimbledon.
The Romanian went into last month’s Roland Garros final against then 47th-ranked Jelena Ostapenko as the overwhelming favorite to win the French Open title.
When she was a set and 3-0 up, it seemed as if she was minutes away from becoming the first Romanian to win a grand slam crown since her manager Virginia Ruzici in Paris in 1978.
Yet, astonishingly, Ostapenko blew a hole into that theory, and into Halep’s psyche, by belting winners from the baseline to become the first Latvian to win a major.
The defeat hurt – really, really badly.
“I watched the final after few days (at) home,” said Halep following her 7-5 6-3 second-round win at Wimbledon over Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia.
“Of course, I would change something if I have to repeat the match, that final. To be more aggressive when I was leading.
“But to be honest, I’m not thinking any more of that match because I was suffering about that result. It’s already gone,” added Halep, who finished runner-up in Paris for the second time in four years.
“I’m here. I’m just trying to make another chance, to go to the end of the tournament.”
To add to her woes, the Paris meltdown also denied her a chance to become world number one.
Halep is once again in the mix to claim that coveted ranking at the end of Wimbledon but after her Paris heartache, she does not want to think too far ahead.
“I’m not thinking about (being number one). I had some chances also in the final in French Open but I didn’t get it.
Of course, it’s a nice goal for me to get the No. 1, but
it’s not easy,” said Halep, who will next face China’s Peng Shuai.
In keeping with her policy to stay as stress-free as possible during her pursuit of a maiden Wimbledon title, Halep has rented a house within walking distance of the All England Club to save herself the commute of traveling in from the tournament’s official hotel in central London.
“It’s first time when I stay here in the village. I have a house, very nice house. I’m just chilling,” she said.
“I had some bread with Nutella in the morning. This is my dessert for this tournament,” she added with a smile.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)