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KEY DATES FOR WIMBLEDON 2017

Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July

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News
Friday, 7 July 2017 16:28 PM BST
Steady Halep steers safe course
World No.2 beats Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-5(7) and takes another step in the right direction READ MORE

Anyone who is confidently predicting the winner of the ladies' singles title must have spent too long in the sun.

But one strong possibility must be that, in just over a week's time, Simona Halep will be in possession of both the Venus Rosewater Dish and the world No.1 ranking, after the Romanian made the fourth round by defeating China's Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-6(7).

If an unseeded world No.47 can win Roland Garros, as the 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko did last month, then why can't the current world No.2 score her first Grand Slam title here on the Wimbledon grass? Now, that's hardly out of left-field.

In the absence of Serena Williams, who is seven months pregnant, the women's game is going though one of its gloriously unpredictable phases. But Halep winning The Championships would hardly be a shock to shake the ivy, given she is a former semi-finalist here, and also made the quarter-finals on her trip to London last summer.

Halep's next appearance will be fascinating as she will face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, a former world No.1 who is playing her first Grand Slam tournament since the birth of her son Leo seven months ago.

With just three weeks between Roland Garros and The Championships, it is just as well that the crushing disappointment of losing the Paris final to Ostapenko - she won the first set and had a game point for a 4-0 lead in the second - doesn't appear to have clung to Halep like red clay granules on white socks. "I'm really happy - I've improved with every match [at Wimbledon]," she said. "I was sad [after losing the French Open final] but I was realistic about what I did well and what I didn't do well. My game is at a high level. That defeat didn't bring me down."

 One of the most intriguing aspects of Halep's tennis has been the dynamic with her Australian coach Darren Cahill, who has previously worked with Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Murray, and who politely declined a role with Roger Federer as he couldn't commit to the travel required.

Usually, it's the player who has the power in that relationship, but earlier this year Cahill took the unusual step of ending the partnership as he wasn't happy with Halep's attitude. Perhaps that was a surprise that Halep needed, as she then applied herself harder than ever before, and Cahill, liking what he saw, came back to his job.

In his black cap and sunglasses, Cahill looked on from the side of No.2 Court as Halep came from a break down in the opening set, and later survived Peng's set point in the tie-break. This wasn't easy or straightforward, but winning Wimbledon isn't supposed to be.

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