It seemed more a matter of when, not if.
Coach Darren Cahill stepped aside at the end of 2018 to devote time to his family.
But it seemed he was never far from wherever former charge Simona Halep was this season.
And on Thursday – a bit lost amidst the Kim Clijsters comeback campaign – Halep announced that Cahill would officially be back as her coach in 2020.
“After a year without him on my team, I’m happy to announce that Darren will be back by my side next season. So, D, last time I killed you. And I’m planning to kill you again,” Haleo said on her social media Thursday morning. “Welcome back. Can’t wait to finish what we started. See you soon.”
No permanent replacement
Halep began the season without a coach.
Although, as you can see by the photos below, Cahill was sitting courtside from her early practices at the Australian Open.
Early in the season she had a trial run with Thierry van Cleemput, who had just ended a long coaching association with David Goffin.
But they quickly realized they weren’t a good fit.
Halep announced after Miami that she would be working with fellow Romanian Daniel Dobre, a coach she had worked with before and knew her well.
With Dobre on board, she won Wimbledon for the first time. (He’s not even mentioned in the WTA website piece about Cahill’s return).
Second reunion of 2019
Halep isn’t the first player this year to reunite with a longtime coach who brought his player to the highest heights.
At the US Open, there was plenty of drama as Kamau Murray, who had taken on Monica Puig after a “break” was announced with American Sloane Stephens, dumped Puig and returned to Stephens.
In this case, no such drama, as Cahill was most definitely a free agent.
Ankle injury has Halep off court
Halep, who turns 28 in a few weeks (time flies), didn’t have the hard-court summer she’d hoped for after that momentous Wimbledon victory.
She returned in Toronto, but retired after losing the first set to qualifier Marie Bouzkova in the quarterfinals. The official reason was a “lower leg injury”.
It didn’t seem all that serious, but in the weeks before a Grand Slam, you take no chances.
She did return in Cincinnati the following week and won a marathon over Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round. Halep then was beaten 7-5 in the third set in the third round by eventual champion Madison Keys.
At the US Open, after winning the first set routinely against Taylor Townsend in the second round, she ended up being eliminated in a third-set tiebreak.
Then, she pulled out of a planned participation with countryman Horia Tecau in the mixed doubles.
She was to have played the inaugural event in Zhengzhou, China this week, but withdrew with an ankle injury.
Asian swing still on
Halep remains entered in the Premier 5 in Wuhan the week of Sept. 23, then the Premier Mandatory in Beijing.
She currently stands No. 2 in the race to the year-end final in Shenzhen, with Karolina Pliskova and Bianca Andreescu right behind her. But you’d expect her to make that event, as well.
The announcement was for 2020. We’re told Halep will continue to work with Dobre during the season-ending swing in Asia.