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Simona Halep mounted a remarkable comeback to beat Elina Svitolina and set up a French Open semifinals clash with Karolina Pliskova.

By Jon Wertheim
June 07, 2017

On Sunday, we knew that we would have a first-time major winner on the women’s side. Implicit in that: the results would be dictated as much by handling the occasion as they would placing tennis balls in boxes. With sizable opportunities come sizable rations of pressure.

Rifling her forehand and declining to miss first serves, Elina Svitolina led Simona Halep 5-0 in the opening set on Wednesday. She lost the next three games but took the set 6-3. Svitolina led the second set 5-1, a few points from an easy, under-an-hour win. But she blinked and her opponent’s eyes widened. Halep gained confidence and composure with each game and leveled the set 6-6. In the tiebreaker, Svitolina held a match point. Halep saved it and ran out the tiebreaker 8-6. By then, Svitolina’s psyche had been julienned. No. 3-seed Halep closed out the match in the third set with a 6-0 scoreline. 

Halep—whose coach, Darren Cahill, ironically left her because of her defeatist attitude; he came back several weeks later—gave a primer on the virtues of keeping calm. And she is in the semifinals, where she will face No. 2-seed Karolina Pliskova, who beat Caroline Garcia 7-6(3), 6-4.

 

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