Simona Halep of Romania in action against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain at the French Open.
Simona Halep of Romania in action against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain at the French Open. IAN LANGSDON

Aussie coach helping Simona Halep find her best

ROMANIAN Simona Halep has blasted into the French Open quarter-finals, moving a step closer to delivering another major achievement for coach Darren Cahill.

If tournament favourite Halep advances to her first grand slam title on Saturday, she will become the third player to reach world No.1 under the astute South Australian mentor.

A dominant 6-1 6-1 victor over Spanish 21st seed Carla Suarez Navarro, Halep will also become the third competitor Cahill has guided to a major trophy.

US Open semi-finalist Cahill was in Lleyton Hewitt's corner when the Adelaide prodigy beat Pete Sampras in the 2001 Flushing Meadow final.

His influence enabled Hewitt to become the youngest player in history, aged 20, to secure the season-ending world No.1 ranking.

Appointed to Andre Agassi's camp in 2002, Cahill restored the champion baseliner's confidence and form in spectacular fashion.

At 33, Agassi became the oldest man to reach No.1 and secured his eighth and final major - the 2003 Australian Open - under Cahill.

Halep and Cahill began collaborating at the end of 2015, a connection which has built promisingly apart from a brief break this season after Halep's Miami Open meltdown.

Since reuniting in Madrid, Halep has won 13 of 14 matches, claiming the Madrid title, finishing runner-up in Rome and reaching the last eight in Paris.

"I think I played my best here this year," Halep said after trouncing Suarez Navarro.

"I expected a really tough one. She is a very good player on claycourt.

"I just pushed her back. I was extra motivated because I love this tournament.

"I feel confident, I feel good as well. From start of this tournament, I play better and better and I hope to continue to improve."

Halep lost only eight points on first serve and broke Suarez Navarro six times while dropped her own serve just once.

German Angelique Kerber will lose the No.1 crown if Karolina Pliskova makes the semis or Halep lands the title.

The third-seeded Halep will next play fifth seed Elina Svitolina after the Ukrainian clambered back from 2-5 in the deciding set to overhaul world 290 Petra Martic 4-6 6-3 7-5.

Meanwhile, Czech Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych has parted company with coach Goran Ivanisevic following a demoralising second round loss at Roland Garros.

News Corp Australia


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