After a terrific year which saw her consolidating the top spot in the rankings, Simona Halep has officially qualified for the 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore. Making her fifth consecutive appearance in the Lion City, and being the only player to do so, Halep has shown an unbelievable level of consistency having been ranked inside the top-two throughout the entire year.
Furthermore, she is almost certain to be the year-end world number one for the second consecutive year. Grabbing her first Major title at Roland Garros alongside titles in Shenzhen and Montreal, Halep has truly proven her credentials and will enter Singapore looking to end the year on a high note.
Impressive 2018 for Halep
Halep started the year in excellent fashion — fighting off rising star Aryna Sabalenka and defending champion Katerina Siniakova to grab the title at the Shenzhen Open. She followed it up with an incredible run to the final of the Australian Open. There, she saved match points to defeat Lauren Davis 15-13 in the final set, before breezing past the hard-hitting Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova and yet again fending off match points against Angelique Kerber. However, she fell short to Caroline Wozniacki in the final despite leading by a break in the final set.
Semifinal appearances in Doha and Indian Wells followed, but her clay-court season was even more impressive. She reached the final in Rome, defeating Maria Sharapova along the way, and went all the way in Paris for the French Open. She battled past Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza and came from a set and a break down to defeat Sloane Stephens in the final.
Another high-point of 2018 for Halep came during the US Open Series when she went on a nine-match winning streak. Her run at the Rogers Cup was extraordinary — defeating opponents with an average rank of 13.4. She looked to close out the fortnight with consecutive titles but was just an inch away from completing the historic Montreal-Cincinnati double as she narrowly fell to Kiki Bertens in the final having wasted a match point.
Recent injury struggles
However, amidst all her achievements this year, Halep is currently on a four-match losing streak and went winless during the Asian swing due to a herniated disk in her back. She was visibly struggling with her injury and crashed out in the opening round of the Wuhan Open and China Open, retiring in the latter.
The time required to completely recover from a herniated disk depends on a case-by-case basis, but Halep is still scheduled to compete at the Kremlin Cup next week. The decision to take a wildcard into Moscow could be a double-edged sword — she could gain some match practice, while on the other end she could further aggravate the injury.
Nonetheless, fans would be extremely excited to see Halep competing for the last time in Singapore since the WTA Finals will be held in Shenzhen starting from next year.