'Halep Will Have Chances To Win Big Events': New Coach Martinez Calls For Time & Patience

'Halep Will Have Chances To Win Big Events': New Coach Martinez Calls For Time & Patience

by Nurein Ahmed

Simona Halep's return to tennis at this week's Miami Open resulted in a first-round defeat, but her performance caught the attention of her new coach, Carlos Martinez.

Halep was away from the tour for almost 16 months. The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) provisionally suspended her for testing positive for the prohibited substance Roxadustat.

Last September, the ITIA sanctioned the Romanian with a four-year doping ban following conclusive investigations. Halep fought that charge at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS), for which she was successful in reducing the length of the ban to nine months.

That period of ineligibility expired last year, and she was cleared to return to action. She was offered a wild card to compete in Miami, although former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was not impressed by the move.

Halep played some superb tennis intermittently in a marquee first-round match against Paula Badosa, winning the first set 6-1. But the Spaniard raised her level, and the lack of court time for over a year proved the difference maker as Halep struggled with her mobility down the stretch.

Nonetheless, she gave a good account of herself. This was echoed by her new coach, Carlos Martinez, who spoke to Ubitennis in an exclusive interview. The Spaniard is convinced that the two-time Grand Slam champion will compete for top honors in the near future but called for time and patience.

"I watched her full match and I was impressed because she had no time to prepare. The level that she was showing was very good and she had this same champion gem, as I describe it. She was competing very well but didn’t have a lot of gasoline (at the end of the match) because she couldn’t work (on her game) the last couple of weeks."

"I am sure when Simona gets back into her best shape she will compete with the best players on the best courts. She will be one of the players who will have chances to win big events."

"Now she needs time and we have to be patient. But with this kind of player when they are that good, you have to be ready for any result. The ambition Simona has is going to be very important for her to get the goals that she wants."

When asked about her goals for the 2024 season, Halep downplayed expectations. She is clearly taking it one match at a time and has yet to meet her new coach, Martinez, in person.

Their contact was initiated through Halep's ex-coach, Darren Cahill, who acted as an intermediary in brokering a deal. The 49-year-old coach, who has previously worked with WTA stars like Svetlana Kuznetsova and Daria Kasatkina, has also not set any goals for now in his new role.

"I agree with Simona that the most important thing right now is to be healthy and to recover her shape. Work well on her tennis and fitness area. Then after a few weeks, we will see what the main goals are going to be."

"At the beginning of her comeback, the most important thing is to be on the court, prepare well and to recover her level. Once she recovers her level I am one hundred percent sure that she is going to get the goals that she wants."


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