Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Nice, strong finish, wasn’t it?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, very nice. Better for me because I didn’t want to play three sets. So it was good that I could finish it.
Q. What are your general thoughts on the match?
SIMONA HALEP: I think when I lost some games in the second set, it was because I played too much in the middle. So I started to use less pace, less power, and opened the court more. She struggled in those directions.
Q. She’s not your favorite opponent in terms of game style. Are you getting more used to this style now that you’ve played her two weeks in a row?
SIMONA HALEP: Yes. Also the wind was difficult today. It didn’t feel like last week, let’s say. Also, yeah, I know how she’s playing. It’s not my favorite style because she doesn’t give power.
I think I had many matches with her and won them. I feel confident when I play against her.
Q. Is your mentality different when you go into a tournament and you have a full tank of gas, full of energy, compared to a tournament where you come in and you know that you don’t have a full tank of gas? Does that change your mindset?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it’s different. My mindset now is just to finish the points as quick as possible. I’m trying to be more aggressive. Maybe it’s a good thing, and I have to learn for when I’m ready to play. I’m more relaxed. I don’t put pressure on myself. Also I have no expectations. When I feel that, I play better.
Q. Are you at your best or how far are you from your best?
SIMONA HALEP: I feel good on court. I feel that my game is pretty strong, also physically, even if I’m tired a little bit. Yeah, I feel close to my highest level.
Q. Naomi lost yesterday, talked about dealing with the new expectations and attention. You maybe went through something similar from needing a wild card in Madrid to becoming a top-10 player within a year. Can you talk about that pressure.
SIMONA HALEP: I think it’s different to each player. I cannot say what she feels.
It’s normal. She didn’t play since Melbourne. She won that title, very big title. It’s normal to have a little bit of letdown maybe. But she will come back stronger. If she lost one match, doesn’t mean that she lost everything. She has to relax.
Q. In your experience, when did you start to kind of get used to that extra attention?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn’t feel very weird when I went to No. 1 seed. I didn’t have this pressure. Also I’ve been there for four years before, so No. 2, No. 3. She’s different because she came last year from around 70, if I remember well. Maybe it’s different.
I was okay. I didn’t have pressure of being No. 1.
Q. From your perspective, being a top player for so long, was there ever an instance where it surprised you where you took a loss at a tournament, and the media, the attention, the discussion surrounding that result was out of proportion to maybe your own reaction to it?
SIMONA HALEP: Nobody has or had what I had in Romania. Trust me that I am strong, that I could resist that thing (smiling).
But when I’m going to the tournaments, even if I’m No. 1, No. 5, I treat the same. You can lose any time. You can win any match. I’m going with that mentality.
If I lose, let’s say, an easy match, even if at this level you don’t have easy matches, I don’t make a drama. I want to shake it off fast, then start the new day tomorrow.
Q. Did it take you some time to get used to that blowback at home?
SIMONA HALEP: 2014 was the worst, then one more year, then that was it. Now I’m feeling good.
Q. What piece of advice would you have given yourself when you first started your career and why?
SIMONA HALEP: What piece of advice when my career started?
Q. Would you have given yourself.
SIMONA HALEP: To change the attitude on court. To be calmer. To be more positive. To never give up. This is what I would do better if I would start now.
Q. At what moment did you decide to completely devote yourself to becoming a professional tennis player? Why was it at that specific time?
SIMONA HALEP: It was at 14, when I was 14. I told myself that now the joke is finished, so I have to treat everything serious. I don’t know why I felt in that moment. Maybe with the experience from juniors, stuff like this.
At that point I said to be serious that I want to become one of the best players in the world.