Simona Halep, 24, dropped to the 7th position in the WTA ranking that made public on Monday, April 25th. For the Romanian Tennis player it’s the lowest position she has held over the past two years. The situation is all the more complicated as there are only a few points standing between her and the 10th ranked – a few hundred points, which is equivalent to an average-ranked tournament.

Besides, even a potential exit from WTA top 8 can turn out to be fatal for Halep. Such a scenario could lead her to face some potentially disastrous matches in the early stages of major tournaments. It’s well known that the first 8 players in the ranking can’t play against each other before the quarterfinals (this rule applies to Grand Slam, Premier Mandatory tournaments).

The unexpected Stuttgart elimination

At Stuttgart,Simona Halep suffered one of the toughest defeats in the past few years. The young player Laura Siegemund turned out to be the surprise, eliminating Halep after two sets 6-1 6-2. Since she was at that moment outside the WTA top 70, Siegemund took advantage of the Romanian’s weak shape and qualified for the quarterfinals (she then competed in the final and lost to Angelique Kerber).

Simona Halep’s evolution on the tennis court was hesitating. Her lack of focus and precision can be attributed to physical distress (she seems to have injured her left ankle).

Alarming results so far in 2016

This season, Halep is nowhere near the shape she had in the past years.

Although she seemed to be recovering at Indian Wells and Miami, the first matches she played on clay suggest the contrary. Even though it’s her favorite playing surface, the clay came as a cold shower to Halep. The defeats in the FedCup and at Stuttgart, both on clay, raise numerous question marks. The overall results are alarming as well.

According to the statistics on the official WTA website, Simona Halep has 10 victories and 9 defeats so far in 2016, and the overall results speak for themselves.

At a closer look one might notice an odd trend which at the same time isn’t hard to anticipate. In the previous seasons, Simona failed in reaching good results at the tournaments where she had to defend her points.

This has somewhat turned into a mental barrier, another think that weighs on her shoulders ever since last year. Back then, she lost at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the first rounds of those events, as opposed to 2014 when she played in the Roland Garros final and also in the Wimbledon semifinal.

Her situation is normal for a player at her level. It can be hard to defend a fruitful season without giving in to the pressure coming from all sides. And it’s not only the pressure of results and of the points that need to be defended, but also the pressure from the audience. If we add up all these factors, we might come to a reasonable explanation regarding the Romanian tennis player’s free fall.

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