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August 25, 2014

Simona Halep


S. HALEP/D. Collins
6-7, 6-1, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Is it hard the first round? It's kind of your first day out here, big stage. At any Grand Slam, really.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it's really difficult the first round of the tournament. Always it's hard to play, to start the tournament, and today was, you know, a big challenge for me because I played the first match of this tournament on center court. It's not easy to manage the situation, but I think after first set did I very well. I played better than first set. I started a little bit nervous, but it's normal. And she played really well, as well. She was hitting the balls really good. She was serving good. She will have, for sure, a good future.

Q. You talked about on court the size of the stadium, how big it is. How did you adjust to that? Also, how did you find your forehand? Because it looked like the first set it was flying a little bit.
SIMONA HALEP: I played few years ago here on Arthur Ashe against Jankovic. I lost that match, but was a good match I remember. It's not easy to play on this court because it's very big. It's the biggest you see. Wherever you look you see the people, so it's not easy. But, yeah, you are right. My forehand wasn't there first set. Then I just wanted to hit some balls to feel it again. Then I was more aggressive, I took the ball faster, and I think that helped me. So I'm happy that I could find my game to win this match, because was a tough one.

Q. Did you know anything about your opponent before you set foot on court? See any tape or anything?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't know how she looks (laughter) because I never saw her on the tour. She's a great player. Of course she has good motivation. I saw her second ball. She was screaming, Come on. So it's a good thing for her. For sure she will be a good player in the future.

Q. How does it feel coming into a Grand Slam being No. 2 in the world?
SIMONA HALEP: It's not easy. It's a little bit of pressure. I can say more pressure because everyone is telling me that I have chance to win this title. But still I'm very far. I have to take match by match and to see if I can win more matches here. Every match like today was tough, and every match is tough here. I have just to try my best always and to do everything on court to win. We will see how far I can go in this tournament. Even if I'm second place, doesn't matter at all.

Q. But you do feel extra pressure?
SIMONA HALEP: I feel, yes. I feel, but I manage well till now. We'll see.

Q. But you're not No. 2 in the world for no reason. You're playing really well. You could also say maybe you're confident from that?
SIMONA HALEP: I am confident in my game. I played really good matches these months. Also I did finals of Grand Slam in French Open, so it's a good thing. I have confidence in myself. I believe in my chance, but still I want to take match by match. We'll see.

Q. How different is Ashe from, for instance, center court at the French Open?
SIMONA HALEP: It's bigger and it's more blue. There it's green, I think. The pressure is the same. It's the biggest court so it's a little bit different, because like I said, you see -- wherever you look you see people, so it's not easy.

Q. At any point today did you start to panic after that first set?
SIMONA HALEP: I'm not sure. Last point of first set I just wanted to hit the ball out to finish that set because was incredibly tough for me. Then I went to the toilet and I said, Look, you have nothing to lose. Go on court and try your best and your game. I did well. Yeah, I wasn't panicked on court, no.

Q. Can you really tell yourself that you have nothing to lose?
SIMONA HALEP: Yes, I can. And that helped me. Yeah. Always.

Q. You were 0-1 down in the third set, in the final set. Were you scared?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't remember this (smiling). No, I wasn't scared, because I felt my game again. In second set I played really well. So then in third set I started with confidence that I can win that match, so I did everything. I think the game was going on the right way.

Q. What did you learn from this match?
SIMONA HALEP: I learned that if you start bad, still you can win the match. So I have to play till the end, till the last point, and to fight for every chance you have during the match.

Q. To get to No. 2 in the world, has it been a physical process, or how much of it has been a mental process of learning how to play?
SIMONA HALEP: I think together, all together, because also mentally I'm stronger than last year. Also I move very well on court. Just before the match my coach told me that I'm in top 3 players in the world that I have a good movement on court. So it's a good thing for me. Also, I changed a little bit, you know, my style. I'm more aggressive now and I improved a lot in my serve, so today in third set I served really well. Every day we have to work to reach the top and to stay there, because it's more difficult to stay there than to reach it.

Q. To be more aggressive, does that mean for you to go for winners more or to go for better second serves?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really for winners. Just to stay very close to the baseline and to take the ball fast. To play fast. That's in my head.

Q. When you found out you'd be playing the first match the whole tournament in Ashe, what's your first reaction when you found that out?
SIMONA HALEP: Wow. (Smiling). It's not easy to see that you play first match of tournament on center court. But, you know, I have experience now. I didn't manage very well the emotions, but it's good that I finished well.

Q. How have you found that the courts have been playing? Fast? Slow? Medium?

Q. Faster than last year, do you think?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't play last year, so I don't know. It's okay. For me it's fine. I like the court.

Q. The next opponent is Slovakian, Jana Cepalova. Do you know her?

Q. Jana Cepalova.
SIMONA HALEP: Cepalova. Yeah, I know her. She played good -- she has good year, because I saw her winning in Charleston, I think, or played the final. She's a good player, so will be a tough match again. I'm looking for to prepare the match and to win it.
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