Simona Halep: “He brought back that fire”: how Patrick Mouratoglu helped the former first racket of the world 1 to revive the love of tennis here

For the first time since January 2014, having fallen outside the coveted top 10 of the world rankings, Halep fell out of love with tennis.

However, since she began working with Muratoglu earlier this year, Halep says her passion for the sport has been rekindled.

“I really didn’t expect this because I’m not very open to people and it’s not easy for me to trust someone. But it was just a wonderful bond from the first minute I met him,” Halep says of Muratoglu.

“I almost finished before coming here because I didn’t have that fire anymore and didn’t believe I could play at the highest level again. So when I came here, I found him and again understood why I play tennis,” she adds. “I play tennis because I love it… He brought that fire back.”

Simona Halep strikes back from the left of Poland's Iga Swiatek in the WTA semi-final at the Indian Wells tennis tournament on March 18, 2022.

New beginnings

In April, Muratoglu announced on social media that he will start coaching Halep full-time after she visited his prestigious training academy in France ahead of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian WellsCalifornia.

“I always enjoy watching her play. I think she has an incredible game, so she’s very exciting as a player,” Muratoglu told CNN Sport. “She was already playing well, but she could have played much more. I saw the progress she could make.”

Muratoglu, known by his nickname “The Coach”, is one of the most sought after tennis instructors.

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He started coaching in 2005, working with Marcos Baghdatis on the junior team and helping him get to world number one. 1 at youth level, according to his Official site.

A year later, Baghdatis reached the final of the Australian Open before losing to Roger Federer and also reached the Wimbledon semi-finals that same season.

Since then, Muratoglu has helped a host of promising young players improve their game, including Grigor Dimitrov, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and, most notably, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. site adds.

The secret to his success? “Of course, passion is the most important thing. (If) players don’t have passion, they won’t achieve anything great,” Muratolgu said. “So that’s the key.”

“People also have moments in their lives when they may lose their love for the game for a while or lose their love for the game,” he adds. “I don’t think she (Halep) lost it.”

What makes a champion

Tennis students train at the Mouratoglou Academy in Biot, southeast France, September 23, 2021.
Although Romanian Halep has 23 singles titles under her belt, including two Grand Slam titles, she has had to adapt to a particularly tough form of competitive training. Muratoglu Academy.
She spent two weeks starting a new workout schedule at 8:30 a.m., which she says she “never did in her life.” WTA reported.
“I did it with pleasure and did it easily. So it made me think that I still love it and can still do it. So if I’m healthy, I think I can play well.” BTA website.

In addition to physical rehabilitation, Halep worked with Muratoglu to restore her self-confidence.

“He’s very open, so it’s very easy to talk to him,” she tells CNN. “I am very emotional. In general, I have a lot of fears and I doubt myself most of the time. And it was easy for me to express myself the way I am.”

When Muratoglu appeared on the Netflix series The Game Compilation in September 2020, he talked about how a player’s fortitude can make or break their ability to become a champion.

The series is about world famous sports coaches who share their personal rules for achieving success both on and off the arena.

Simona Halep shares joyful moments with coach Patrick Mouratoglou as she prepares for Roland Garros on May 18, 2022 in Paris, France.

“Everyone has limits, and the limits of everyone are not technical, tactical, physical. They are mental,” Muratoglu told the documentary.

“And when you don’t think like a champion, you don’t act like a champion and you don’t win like a champion. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that the mind works correctly.”

Muratoglu told CNN that he has the same approach to rebuilding a player’s mental health as the legendary football manager. Jose Mourinhowho also appeared in the Netflix series.

“He said something like: ‘Football starts with the foot, continues with the heart and ends with the head.’

“The head is the most important thing … because if you do not deeply believe that you can achieve something, you will not go to the fullest. You will go halfway. You will find reasons not to. You will find excuses,” Muratoglu says.

“I think a big part of my job is helping people, in this case Simone, believe in themselves and in their ability to achieve what they want,” he adds. “I always tell Simone how strong she is mentally because I really believe in it.

“She made my job a lot easier in a way, being so open and trusting me so much.”

Partnership with Serena Williams

Muratoglu is no longer used to reinventing players who hit rock bottom.

In 2012, he approached a turning point in his career when he began coaching Williams, which has just suffered an unprecedented defeat at Roland Garros from the Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano. It was the first time in Williams’ career that she had lost in the first round of a major competition.
Serena Williams trains with coach Patrick Mouratoglu in preparation for the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on September 26, 2020.

She also aspired to win Grand Slams as she did not win a major tournament for two years.

Muratoglu and Williams were named “Dynamic Duo” during the tour and ended up with 10 points. Grand Slam wins together, as well as the women’s singles title at the 2012 London Olympics.

“I am very proud of what we have done with Serena. Now, of course, I am very grateful for these incredible 10 years,” Muratoglu says. “She trusted me for 10 years, which is rare in the tennis world.”

Williams has not played since exiting a Wimbledon first-round match against Alexandra Sosnovich in June 2021, during which she suffered a leg injury.

“It’s not easy to tell someone you’ve worked with for 10 years that you’re going to start something with someone else,” Muratoglu adds. “It’s a 10 year relationship… in which you share so many things, so many emotions and so many moments.”

“I’m ready to do my best”

As Muratoglu and Halep speak to CNN, they are gearing up for Roland Garros, where the 30-year-old Romanian is set to play Croatia’s Ana Konyukh in the first round on Sunday.

Halep has fond memories of the French Open where she won first Grand Slam title in Paris after defeating Sloane Stephens in 2018.

“The French Open is my favorite Grand Slam,” she says. “I love the city. I feel great. I love the atmosphere. So everything comes together and I feel great. This tournament is going to be a big test for me. I’m ready mentally. I’m ready to do my best.”

“I really thought that I would finish by the age of 30,” says Halep. “I was wrong.”

“I want to play for a few more years. I feel like I can,” she adds. “My body is fine. You know I feel healthy. I feel that my energy level is high. So I don’t see any reason to stop now.”

Simona Halep hugs the trophy as she celebrates after winning the women's singles final against Sloane Stephens in the French Open final on June 9, 2018 in Paris, France.

However, there is one player who can stop Halep from winning a third Grand Slam title.

Poland Iga Swiatek had a meteoric rise and became number 1 in the world. 1 for the last year.
In April, she won her fourth title in a row in the 2022 season at Final of the Stuttgart Open.extending their winning streak to 23 matches.
At just 20 years old, Swiatek showed no sign or fluctuates. If she wins the French Open, she will match Venus Williams’ record of 35 consecutive wins this millennium.

“Over the past month, Iga has shown great physical, mental and tennis stability. She is very stable in everything. That’s why she won so much. But I think that everyone can be beaten,” Muratoglu says.

And Muratoglu is sure that the strength of the spirit of Halep can compete with Svyatek.

“She’s also a great player, but what makes her special is that she’s extremely mentally strong,” he says. “I feel like she also believes in herself and that combination can work wonders.”