Simona Halep has branded Karolina Pliskova a worthy world No1 after the Romanian lost her Wimbledon quarter-final to Johanna Konta, missing out on a chance to ascend to the top spot herself.
Halep was one win away from the summit of the rankings but fell 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 to home favourite Konta in a 2hr 38min battle on Tuesday.
The No2 seed also had the opportunity to get to No1 had she won her French Open final last month but ended up losing to an inspired Jelena Ostapenko, despite leading by a set and a break.
Asked about Pliskova’s imminent rise to No1 when the new rankings are released on Monday, Halep said: “She’s playing really well. This year she already has few titles won. I feel she deserves to be there. She has the best serve, I think, after Serena. So well done to her. She played really well this year. I think she’s happy now.”
Halep and Konta produced a high-quality affair, playing under the Centre Court roof, on a rainy day at SW19.
The match ended on a sour note as a spectator screamed mid-rally, thinking Halep had hit a long ball, and it distracted the Romanian, who then committed an error and lost the match.
Umpire Kader Nouni would not replay the point.
“I thought he’s going to repeat the point. I think it’s normal to repeat the point when someone is screaming like that,” Halep calmly said after the match when asked about the incident.
Asked why she didn’t protest longer, she added: “Because he said, ‘We cannot replay’. I cannot change anything. So why I should fight?”
The 25-year-old admits it was a frustrating defeat, but “not more than the final in French Open”.
She hit 26 winners against just nine unforced errors through the match and saved six of eight break points she faced.
“I think was close to the best, maybe the best (match I played on grass),” said Halep. “I thought my level was pretty high also hitting the balls, serves, how I served, and also the moving. Maybe I should stay a little bit more closer to the line. But she was hitting pretty strong. I think was a great match. I take the positives.”
Halep continues to suffer near-misses on the grand stage but she remains proud of her performances this fortnight.
Asked what positives she takes from Wimbledon, she said: “That I played so well after disappointing moment in French Open. I was able again to fight till the end. I played well, so my game is there. I’ve been okay.
“These are the positives. I cannot complain about anything because she played well today, and she got the match, she won the match.”
And on the disappointment of once again missing out on getting to No1, she said: “It’s nice to be in the top 10 for so long time. I’m really pleased with my performance. Of course, one of my goals is to get to No1. But I had another chance here. I was close, I could say. But doesn’t affect me that much because I think I have many years ahead. So maybe I will have more chances. I’m close, so I have just to keep working.”