Wimbledon – Simona Halep’s self-belief can overcome odds in final clash with Serena Williams

Simona Halep is confident she can upset the odds against Serena Williams and land a first Wimbledon title.

Simona Halep celebrates victory over Elina Svitolina. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA
Simona Halep celebrates victory over Elina Svitolina. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA

The numbers do not stack up in the Romanian’s favour ahead of Saturday’s final, with Williams gunning for an eighth title and a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles win.

Halep has one grand slam to her name, the French Open last year, and has beaten Williams only once in 10 meetings, losing the last six.

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Williams, 37, was close to her ruthless best when dispatching Barbora Strycova 6-1 6-2 in the semi-final.

Serena Williams. Picture: Alastair Grant/PA

But Halep was almost as impressive in her 6-1 6-3 win over Elina Svitolina and the seventh seed says she is ready to grasp her big opportunity.

She said: “Everything is possible. That’s why I started to believe more that even if I play on grass, I have my chance to win.

“I’m in the final, so I will not put pressure on myself.

“I just want to plan how I have to play in the final, and then enjoy.

“I’m desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her. I will focus on myself.

“I’m not thinking about her record. Of course, her records are huge already.

“But it’s not about that. It’s just a tennis match, a big challenge, a great match. So I will try just to give my best.

“Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she’s doing, but now I feel stronger mentally facing her.

“I think it’s a great feeling to face Serena in a Grand Slam final. If you are able to win, it makes it sweeter.”

Halep’s only success against Williams was a 6-0 6-2 win in the round-robin stages of the 2014 WTA Finals in Singapore.

Yet that defeat still rankles the American, who is taking nothing for granted as she attempts to pull level with Margaret Court’s record tally of grand slam titles.

“There’s so many impressive things about her,” said Williams.

“I think obviously her tenacity and I think her ability to improve every time, just to keep improving.

“Her ability to find power. You can’t underestimate her. She’s like a little powerhouse.

“She finished the year as number one twice in a row. I feel like she’s back.

“She wants to prove that she can do it again.

“I think the biggest key with our matches is the loss that I had. I never forgot it. She played unbelievable.

“That makes me know that level she played at, she can get there again. So I have to be better than that.”

Williams is staying calm in her quest to equal the legendary Court’s record tally of 24 grand slam singles wins.

The seven-time champion has moved within one victory of putting herself alongside the Australian after she overpowered Strycova.

In the final defeat by Angelique Kerber here 12 months ago, her lack of mobility around the court was exploited, while against Naomi Osaka in New York the American lost her cool in dramatic scenes. I definitely feel like I play better when I’m calm,” admitted Williams.

“But it’s definitely an effort.

“Not getting over-pumped, but at the same time not getting under-wound. I have to be in that right space.” Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou said that despite Williams claiming she was not thinking too much about the record, it was something they would inevitably be focussing on ahead of the potentially historic final.

“Serena has already beaten a lot of records but this is the ultimate one,” said Williams’ long-time coach

“To possibly break a record and make history, the pressure is times 100,” he said.

“If you try to put it aside it will come back and hit you stronger so you have to accept it, deal with it and talk about it. That’s what we’re going to do.”