Simona Halep is the No. 1 player in the world. She has made three Grand Slam finals, has won 16 career titles and is a national hero in Romania.
She has marquee sponsors like Mercedes, and her name is chanted across stadiums worldwide.
That kind of success and status comes with some nice perks sometimes and for Halep, a one true highlight was getting invited to an Andrea Bocelli concert last August in Italy.
“It was a really great feeling and I felt that because of what I’m doing in sport, I’m there,” she told me in Madrid last week.
This week in Rome, she got to attend another Bocelli performance, in a far more intimate setting, along with a few others players including Juan Martin del Potro.
“First time I met him was last year here in Rome, in August. Luckily I lost first round in the US Open so I could attend the concert,” she jokingly said on Wednesday, following her second round victory over Naomi Osaka.
“It’s amazing. I’ve been a huge fan of his since many years ago. I just love the way he’s singing, and all the stories. It was amazing also to be here a few days ago, so close. It was a nice experience and I relaxed myself, so maybe that’s why I played so well today.”
Halep indeed looked relaxed on court on Wednesday but the same cannot be said of Osaka, who told her coach Sascha Bajin during an on-court coaching session that she wanted to cry.
The always honest and reflective Osaka explained to us exactly how she was feeling during that conversation with her coach.
“No. ‘Cause he was asking me, like, what do I think I should do, or something like that. And then he was like… I didn’t say, I wanna cry. I said… Maybe I did. Actually, maybe I did,” she said in her press conference, trying to recall the dialogue between them.
“It’s just like one of the most helpless feelings. Like I know I should be making these balls; but for some reason they’re not going in, and I don’t really know what I should be doing at this point.
“Because I’m legit playing the No. 1 player in the world.
“And the balls that I practice, like I practice every day, they go in. And today it doesn’t go in. It’s just like one of those moments, like, you’re a little bit depressed, and stuff. But I think this is the first match of the year that I’ve felt like this.
“So, last year, it’s literally been a roller coaster. So this year I feel it’s been more stable. So I’m really proud of myself for that.”
Elsewhere, Nick Kyrgios was spotted practicing on the courts at the Foro Italico for the past few days.
The talented Aussie hasn’t played since the second week of April in Houston, and withdrew from multiple tournaments including Rome this week as he continues to recover from an elbow injury.
It’s unclear when he’ll return but he’s hitting on clay, which means perhaps he’s still planning on playing the French Open.
He was also spotted in the stands supporting his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic who qualified for Rome before falling to Daria Kasatkina in the first round on Tuesday.
Nick Kyrgios one of us pic.twitter.com/y9A5t3akqt
— Rossana Capobianco (@Rossana_Capo) May 13, 2018
Karolina Pliskova is facing a significant fine after the Czech ex-world No. 1 broke the umpire’s chair in a racquet-slamming rage, following her second round defeat to Maria Sakkari in Rome.
Late in the third set, with the Czech serving at 6-3, 3-6, 5-5, 40/40, Pliskova had an overhead incorrectly called out and both the line judge and the umpire, Marta Mrozinska, said they could not find the mark.
Replays on TV showed that Pliskova’s ball was in but the umpire, having lost the mark, used her judgment to call it out and give a break point to Sakkari.
Pliskova called for the supervisor, who sided with Mrozinska.
A fuming Pliskova then netted a forehand to get broken right away and Sakkari served out the match in the next game to upset the No. 6 seed 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 and reach the third round.
I have never seen Pliskova like this. pic.twitter.com/nAI5OcMjdH
— Ashish TV 🎾🎥 (@Ashish__TV) May 16, 2018
After shaking Sakkari’s hand, Pliskova approached the umpire’s chair, but instead of shaking her hand, she slammed her racquet multiple times, breaking the umpire’s chair.
The consequences of the incident remain unclear but Pliskova, despite being obviously robbed of that point, will no doubt receive a hefty fine.
— Kristyna Pliskova (@KrisPliskova) May 16, 2018
More to follow…
Facing the same player in back-to-back matches, just one week apart, is always a tricky situation but Maria Sakkari made the best of it as she avenged her Madrid first round loss to Kiki Bertens by defeating the Dutchwoman in their Rome opener on Tuesday.
The Greek player’s draw doesn’t get any easier as she next takes on sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, who won Stuttgart and made the Madrid semi-finals this clay season.
Check out what Sakkari had to say after her triumph over Bertens in the Italian capital.