Simona Halep ends trial with Thierry Van Cleemput, climbs to 2nd position in WTA rankings

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Former World No.1 Simona Halep will not work with coach Thierry Van Cleemput after the Qatar Total Open. Halep confirmed the news in an interview with WTA Insider ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Halep initially confirmed the partnership before taking off to Ostrava, Czech Republic to help Romania earn its first-ever spot in the Fed Cup semifinals. The two worked together for the first time at last week’s Qatar Total Open, where the top seed made a strong run to the final before running out of gas against Elise Mertens, losing 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Saturday’s final.

“So we tried for one week and it’s finished,” Halep told WTA Insider. “We decided to stop because we are not a good fit together. He’s a good person, a very nice person, but on court the chemistry is not there.”

“We couldn’t fit each other tennis-wise. Personally, he is a very nice person. We are friends.”

The former No.1, who will rise to back to No.2 on Monday, landed in Dubai in the late afternoon on Sunday and met with reporters for WTA All Access Hour.

“I can say that I am not looking [for a coach] at the moment,” Halep said. “I have my team, I have my hitting partner with me. I feel good like this and I will take my time. I know I said that when I started the year and then I changed my mind because I felt I need a coach. Still, now I feel like I need that freedom, just to stay and just to play with what I learned from Darren [Cahill] for years.”

“Now I feel more relaxed, I feel more chilled. The priorities are changing a little bit. I’m more responsible for myself and I try to solve my own problems, on court and off court.”

Given her abbreviated pre-season preparation and coaching flux, Halep says she’s been very happy with her level to start the 2019 season.

“I didn’t think I would panic [without a coach],” Halep said. “Of course I was worried a little bit. I didn’t have that feeling for the last four years. Always I had someone behind my shoulders supporting me in every step. So now I am a little bit alone.  “It’s also a good thing. I see the things positively and I feel I can improve more if I stay like this.”

“I’m very happy with how I am playing, how I feel on court, how happy I am also off court, I’m relaxed. I’m taking the tournaments like a pleasure now so the pressure is off. It’s really good. I feel like there are no weights on my shoulders now.”

The No.3 seed this week in Dubai, Halep has a bye into the second round and will play either Eugenie Bouchard or Vera Lapko in her opening match.

Simona Halep has climbed one position in the WTA rankings against last week and is second in the WTA rankings released on Monday after the Doha final.

Halep is at more than 1,400 points behind the leader Naomi Osaka, the Japanese who has won the last two Grand Slam tournaments. Sloane Stephens ranks third, 230 points behind Halep.

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