Wimbledon: Halep back to her best three years on from title win

By Sports Desk July 06, 2022

Simona Halep believes she is playing her best tennis since winning Wimbledon in 2019 after returning to the All England Club semi-finals.

The former world number one is enjoying her first SW19 campaign since that triumph three years ago, with the coronavirus pandemic and a calf injury delaying her return.

The final in 2019 was Halep's fifth at a major, but she has not been back to that stage since.

Now, having swatted aside Amanda Anisimova 6-2 6-4 in the last eight for a 12th consecutive victory at Wimbledon – the longest sequence since 20 straight Serena Williams successes between 2015 and 2018 – she is just one win away.

Halep explained after the Anisimova match that confidence was key, having proven her game was back at a high level in reaching six semi-finals in 2022 – second only to Iga Swiatek (eight) on the WTA Tour.

Three of those last-four appearances have now been on grass, with Johanna Konta in 2017 the last player to achieve that feat in a calendar year.

"Definitely I've played the best tennis [since 2019]," Halep said in her on-court interview. "I struggled a lot last year; now, I'm just trying to build my confidence back.

"The tennis is here, so I just have to believe. I've started to do that, and it feels good."

Asked how high her confidence was now, she replied with a smile: "It's good."

Halep has reached the last four without dropping a set, although that spotless record was briefly threatened by Anisimova, who was a double break down in the second set before breaking back and then leading 40-0 on the Romanian's serve.

Yet Halep dug in to serve out the match and avoid a decider against an opponent with a Tour-leading 12 three-set wins this season.

"I'm very emotional right now, because it means a lot to be back in the semis," Halep said.

"I played a tough opponent today; she could crash the ball in the end, and I didn't know actually what to do.

"But I just believed in myself and said that I had to stay there, strong on my legs – they helped me today – and I believed until the end that I could win."

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