Simona Halep will hope winning a first Wimbledon title inspires her to do better in this year's U.S. Open. Halep entered the 2018 edition of the tournament as the world No. 1, but she slipped to a shock defeat against Kaia Kanepi in the opening round.
Halep has staged an impressive recovery since that setback, culminating in Saturday's straight-set win over Serena Williams at SW19. The Romanian won 6-2, 6-2 in just 56 minutes.
It made Halep the player to beat at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center ahead of the U.S. Open, which begins on Monday, August 26.
Halep to Reach Last 4
Having proved her worth on the grass in London, Halep now needs to show increased comfort on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows, where her best finish was a semi-final place in 2015. It will demand a slower game than the swift way she breezed past Williams.
Halep's strengths should lend themselves well to the surface, with her quality returns potentially making her a tricky opponent for anyone.
Williams found out as much when Halep converted four of five break points in the final. Those breaks helped Halep obliterate the average for winning on returns during this year's tournament:
The Romanian's ability to mix up her returns from the baseline will force her opponents into mistakes.
Halep's superior movement skills were also on full display against Williams:
Aside from her athleticism and the strength of her return game, Halep is also becoming more clinical at Grand Slams. Williams couldn't force her into mistakes, and the 27-year-old rarely let her own standards slip:
There are enough positives in the way Halep is playing to believe she is at least a lock for a semi-final berth at Flushing Meadows. However, there are also ample reasons to believe she will go no further.
For one thing, the competition will be intense. Williams, defending champion Naomi Osaka and 2017 winner Sloane Stephens present formidable potential obstacles.
Meanwhile, it's no coincidence no player has collected the Wimbledon and U.S. Open tiles in the same year since Williams managed it back in 2012. Adapting a style to different surfaces and still beating a crowded field is no easy task, and it will be just beyond Halep this year.