‘If I want to open Wimbledon, I need to win it again’: Halep’s big goal ahead of facing Rybakina in semi-final

Elena Rybakina will play Simona Halep, the No 16 seed, on Thursday for a place in the Wimbledon final

Simona Halep Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates winning her quarter final match against Amanda Anisimova of the U.S. (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

She missed out on opening play at Wimbledon in 2020 due to the pandemic-enforced cancellation, and then injury stopped her from doing it in 2021. World No 1 Iga Swiatek was given the honour this year in the absence of Ash Barty – and Simona Halep would like to finally get her chance in 2023.

“The only chance that I can open this tournament is to win again,” she said after beating Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-4 to reach the final four. “I’m in the semis, but I’m still far. So I will take tomorrow as a new challenge, big challenge, and I will give my best. If there is a chance to win this tournament, I will take it. I will work hard to take it.”

She faces Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, the No 17 seed, in the semi-final. She beat Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to move into the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Elena RYbakina
Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in action during her quarter final match against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

So far this tournament, Rybakina has also defeated American lucky loser Coco Vandeweghe (7-6 (2), 7-5), Canadian Bianca Andreescu (6-4, 7-6 (5)), Chinese Qinwen Zheng (7-6 (4), 7-5) and Croat Petra Martic (7-5, 6-3)

She has also served 44 aces, and Halep knows returning that will be a real test for her.

“I know she’s a big hitter, I played against her few times,” said the 30-year-old. “I’m sure that she has a lot of confidence being in semis now here in Wimbledon.

“But it’s a new match, new challenge. I’m ready for it and I will try to give everything to take my chance.”

For her part, Rybakina reflected on her next opponent: “She’s a great champion. She’s moving really well, reading the game. I just try to do my best, focus on things which I can control: my serve, my shots, emotions.

“[You get] quite nervous if you up, down. No matter what’s happening, just to stay calm, keep playing point by point.”

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