simona halep

Player Feature: Simona Halep

Full Name: Simona Halep 

Birthdate: September 27, 1991

Birthplace: Constanta, Romania 

Years active: 2006 – present

WTA Rank: #4

Key statistics

  • Known for aggressive baseline style
  • Has 19 singles titles
  • Makes 5x fewer errors than opponents
  • Gave Williams two of her worst defeats

Playing without a full-time coach, Simona Halep is an aggressive baseliner who can cover all surfaces. Halep plays right-handed (two-handed backhand). 

She named Justine Henin as one of her primary tennis models. Henin retorted by saying that Halep is an “intelligent game” who is both offensive and aggressive. She has uncanny anticipation and is astonishingly fast. Her strokes are unreadable, but she knows how to disrupt her opposition’s rhythm while disguising her own.

One vital component of Halep’s tennis strategy is her few errors. She always makes fewer errors against her opponents, at about 5x less. She seizes opportunities not to make any error due to her wide back swings and slides despite her small stature (Halep was only 5’6” and 132 lbs). She controls to rally and produces winners in the process without relying on the mistakes of her opponent.

Her agile all-court movement on the court is the end-result of her daily training. She exercises every day for one hour. Her usual regimen includes running, body weight, and resistance activities. She lifts a maximum of 2 kilograms. Halep is an occasional yoga practitioner as well. 

Her breakout season was in 2013. She won six titles against top 20 and top 10 tennis players. Halep was only second to Steffi Graf to do such who also won the same number of titles in 1986. Halep was named the Most Improved Player by the ESPN Center Court.

She became the #2 player in 2014 and ranked #1 twice between 2017 and 2019. The first one was on October 9, 2017, wherein she held the ranking for 16 weeks and again on 2019 for 48 consecutive weeks. Her 64-week #1 combined ranked her as the 10th in women’s tennis history. 

Halep is Wimbledon 2019’s women’s singles champion, outwitting Serena Williams in a two-sets-straight win. She gave Williams two of her worst defeats; first in 2014 WTA Finals by 6-0, 6-2 and in 2019 by 6-2, 6-2.

She won her Grand Slam titles for the first time in several years since she started playing professionally in 2006. She hasn’t won any Australian Open or US Open titles, but she won French Open in 2018 and her latest win, Wimbledon in 2019.

Halep was the second Romanian tennis player to win multiple majors. The first one was Ilie Nastase who won the US Open and French Open in 1972 and 1973, respectively. Nonetheless, she became the only Romanian player to bring home the Venus Rosewater Dish.

She has played almost 700 tennis matches with 19 singles titles and one doubles title. Halep has 486 wins and 207 losses. 

She has played in Africa, South America, Oceania, Asia, Europe, and North America. She was playing for about 14 years on tour. Halep has also played on clay, grass, carpet, indoor, outdoor, but her biggest accomplishments are on hard surfaces with 14 wins and six losses.

Romanian Tennis Federation manages Halep.

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harry maguire

Player Feature: Harry Maguire

Full Name: Jacob Harry Maguire 

Birthdate: March 5, 1993

Birthplace: Sheffield, England 

Current Team: Manchester United

Position: Defender, Centre-Back

Shirt number: 15

Years Active: 2009 – present

Key statistics

  • Appeared on more than 300 matches
  • Has a 70% tackle success rate
  • Has a 76% dribbling success rate
  • Has a 78.1% aerial duel success rate
  • Has an 86% passing accuracy

With his concentration on the field as his strongest characteristic, Harry Maguire’s style of play can be summed up to three things. First, he likes to dribble. Second, he plays long balls more often than not. And third, he plays the ball of the ground. Maguire is an indirect set-piece threat.

Maguire has played with six other clubs namely Barnsley FC U18, Sheffield United U18, Sheffield United, Hull City, Wigan Athletic, and Leicester City. If the deal pushed through, he would be playing for the Manchester United for the 2019/2020 season. Likewise, he was once a part of the national teams: England U21 in 2012 and England in 2017.

Joining Leicester City on July 1, 2017, his contract is supposed to expire on June 30, 2023, after an extension on September 9, 2018. He was the summer transfer that people are eagerly waiting to be resolved.

His current market value was €50 million. However, Manchester United is set to sign Maguire for €80 million–a transfer that is sealed ‘imminently.’ If signed, Maguire’s transfer would be one of the most expensive defenders of all time.

He has already played in nine different major competitions including League One and Premier League where he scored nine and seven goals, respectively. 

Premier League Debate: Scholes vs Gerrard vs Lampardone of football’s most fascinating debates.

Maguire appeared on more than 100 matches (more than 300 on all leagues) between 2009 and 2019. He had seven goals with six assists and 19 clean sheets. He was able to concede 156 goals and tackle 153 with a tackle success rate of 70% (all seasons).

The one who is confident about his moves, Maguire has a dribbling success rate of 76%  in the 2018/2019 season. This makes him the second best defender next to Juan Foyth with 86% success rate. Such attribute has always been attached to his name since he first played football professionally at 19 years old.

He had 56 passes per game on average with a passing accuracy of 86%. While this is behind the passing accuracy of Leicester City (93%) and Manchester United (89%), his average can contribute to the overall success of either team with his average passes.

His aerial duel capacities are highly reliable as well. His aerial duel success rate is 78.1%–the highest with 151 aerial duels in the same season. What he lacks in speed, he compensates with physicality. He is one of the slowest defenders in the field.

These Premier League statistics (all seasons and 2018-2019 season) alone proved Maguire’s defence and team-playing prowess. He plays out from the back as confidently as he could, making him a centre-back to vie for. 

While he may not be a ball-playing centre-back like other defenders, he has all the attributes; hence, various clubs are after him. 

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lebron final

Lebron James Can’t Trade No. 23 Just Yet

As part of his big plan to welcome Anthony Davis, Lebron James is giving up his jersey number as a gift to his new Los Angeles Lakers teammate. 

Lakers confirmed the blockbuster trade last month. It took months for the team to land Davis due to the trade deadline in February. Lakers was only able to make a deal after the free agency moratorium period has ended.

James has yet to relinquish No. 23 because Nike, the official jersey manufacturer of the NBA, won’t let that happen just yet, citing potential production and financial issues to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, ESPN reported.

Nike did not comply due to volumes of inventory of the No. 23 James jerseys. Nike also had an upcoming Lebron 17 sneakers with the same jersey number imprint. Updating to No. 6 in time for selling this fall would be impractical given that design has already been signed off and production has started.

The jersey swap was planned in 2019-20 and was supposed to happen for the 2020-21 season until it met some roadblocks. James previously documented the supposed swap on his Instagram account, confirming the switch back to No. 6 as well. 

Davis has worn No. 23 during his seven-season stint with the New Orleans Pelicans. He also used it in high school and college. James had his No. 23 jersey for his eleven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

James agreed to swap when Davis enters Lakers. James would resume using No. 6, his previous jersey number with Miami Heat, where he won two titles and making it to the NBA finals for four years straight, and in the Olympics as a part of Team USA if the swap pushed through.

The Lakers had already missed the March 15, 2019 deadline for any jersey changes. The team discovered the said deadline only after it made an inquiry with the NBA. According to the league, the number change would still be possible if it can work out a deal with Nike.

But even if they met the said deadline, the request is expected to be declined. James did not submit an official request to change his jersey number from No. 23 to No. 6 for the next season either. 

James and the team have until March 15, 2020, to make the official declarations.

For James also, he would hold off the change to consider the fans who have already purchased No. 23 James jerseys. Yahoo! Sports also reported that the Lakers star would bypass the decision so he, Davis and the entire team may focus on competing for a championship.

Since the jersey swap is not happening, Davis took to Instagram to announce that he’d be sticking with No. 3–the number he used in the last season and when he was in elementary school. The team also announced it on its official Twitter account last Saturday, July 13.

While the fans won’t be seeing No. 23 Davis jerseys, Davis was introduced to the Lakers fans through a press conference later that same day.

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