The stop-and-start rain delays on a dreary day at Flushing Meadows provided a reflection of Halep’s season that has seen the Romanian struggle through an injury-disrupted campaign.
The twice Grand Slam winner missed the French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics due to a calf injury then, in only her second tournament back, was forced to withdraw from the US Open tune-up event in Cincinnati due to a right thigh injury.
🇷🇴 @Simona_Halep is through to Round 3 of the #USOpen for the first time since her 2016 QF run. https://t.co/JnM6fmLRYq
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1630516862000
But there were hints on Wednesday that the former world number one’s luck might be changing when her match was played under the retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, filling the hole left in the schedule when Olga Danilovic withdrew due to illness, handing defending champion Naomi Osaka a walkover.
“I think in life you cannot do much without luck,” smiled Halep. “I feel like I’m a lucky person, always have been. “But you have also to work for what you want and what you desire. Then the luck, if you are positive, the luck comes to you.
“Like today, I was positive and I was ready to play the second round. I was like very positive that I’m healthy and I can go on court 100%, and the court has changed and I could play without stopping because of the rain.”
A strong first set 💪The two-time Grand Slam champion takes the opener 6-3 over Kucova.@Simona_Halep | #USOpen https://t.co/oeBp7kCWiP
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1630515223000
Back near her best physically, Halep said the biggest hurdles now were mental as she tries to convince herself that everything is in working order.
“It’s been a little bit more difficult, the mental part after the injury, because after I got healthy I could play without pain, I was still scared of it,” said Halep. “Mentally I was a little bit down.
“I can say I feel the improvement day by day, and also I feel safer on court. I feel like I play what I want. “I have everything just to push a little bit more every day and to believe that I have my chance every time I step on the court.”