Why Halep reminds coach of the Tazzy Devil

Like the Tazzy Devil, Halep goes a thousand miles an hour and is always chasing trouble, says coach Darren Cahill

Simona Halep reminds her coach Darren Cahill of the cartoon character Tazzy Devil

Darren Cahill and Simona Halep have forged a formidable alliance on the WTA Tour. But the coach-player duo hasn’t lost their sense of humour. Recently, Cahill likened Halep to popular Australian animated character the Tazzy Devil.

“In Australia, we have this little cartoon character called the Tazzy Devil,” says Cahill, on a documentary on Halep by Banca Transilvania.

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“It is incredibly fast, it spins around on itself and it goes thousand miles an hour. He’s a little bit angry all the time and is always chasing trouble. That reminds me more of Simona!”

Cahill, a former player who has coached the likes of Andre Agassi and Andy Murray, first started working with Halep in 2017. He guided her through the pain and heartbreak of two Grand Slam finals defeats and helped her win her first major at the 2018 French Open.

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“Tennis is very one-on-one,” he said. “The coach is important, having chemistry is important, training is important, strategy is important. But ultimately, it’s the player that gets it done.”

Two-time Grand Slam champion Halep believes that Cahill’s sunny personality helped her relax on court and play her best tennis in the biggest of matches.

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“He understood my nerves, my personality,” Halep says.

“I never used to do joke around. Before I met him, I believed that if I was at work, on the court, I should ne inaccessible to everyone. He helped me open up. I started talking to people at the court on a daily basis.

“Australians are very positive…I didn’t get it at first. I mean, you lose a match, and they go, ‘Ok, let’s have a pint. Tomorrow is another day.’ I didn’t see things that way. I’d be very upset for three days, very sad about what happened.

“But he helped me relax. And I play my best tennis when I’m relaxed.”

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The diminutive Romanian is one of the fittest players on the tour. But in the documentary, Halep gives us a peek into the ‘every man’ part of her brain that whines about physical training.

“I have always done what I have been told, but I always complain and talk back,” Halep says.

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“For as long as I can remember, whenever my coach tells me something, I go like, ‘Aww, I have to do this again? Why do I have to do this?’ I think there’s frustration that I don’t enjoy working out in the gym and I always find something to pick on.

“I have never enjoyed running long distances, like 10k. My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, I got bored, I didn’t like it at all. My new team (with Cahill leading the charge) made my training sessions shorter but more intense.

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Though Halep and Cahill split briefly after 2018, they re-united at the beginning of 2020. The Romanian finished the year ranked No 2 in the world and with three titles (Dubai, Prague, Rome).