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March 13, 2015

Simona Halep


S. HALEP/D. Gavrilova
2‑6, 6‑1, 6‑2

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  I'm sure I speak for a lot of people, condolences about the tragedy in your family.  Was it good to get out and play a first match and get that behind you?  What did you go through to make a decision to even stay and play?
SIMONA HALEP:  Yeah, it's really tough to speak about this situation.  It's a painful situation for everyone, for me and for the family, for my family.
I just wanted to play this tournament because he loved tennis.  He played many years tennis.  So I just decided to stay here, because I think it was a little bit easier for me to pass this situation.
It's hard to speak about this, and I just want to dedicate this match to him, because, yeah, he loved tennis and he was very talented.  Yeah, I don't think I want to speak about this.  It's too painful.  You know, it's a big tragedy in my family.

Q.  With your win today, what would you think would be the first thing that you practice on when you practice later today or tomorrow?  What do you think you do that you would need to practice on?  What would be the first thing that you would need to practice on?
SIMONA HALEP:  For this match?

Q.  Yeah.
SIMONA HALEP:  I didn't play against her.  Was first time today, and I didn't know that's how she's playing.  I just spoke with my coach before the match and I decided just to play my game.  But I went on court very nervous and my forehand didn't work well.
I just called him to come and tell me what I have to adjust to play just a little bit more safety on court.  I did.  I relax my hand and I just did everything I could to win every point and to win the match.
She's playing really tough game because she's running a lot and she's good defensor.  So I just wanted to serve very well, but it didn't happen all the match.  I did four double faults I think in that one game and I won the game.  So I think it's like very big thing for me.
You know, when you go on court every match you have just on your mind what you have to do and just to try to do your best every day.

Q.  How are the conditions?
SIMONA HALEP:  Very hot (Smiling.)  Very hot.  I'm not used to practice at this weather, because in Romania it's very cold now.  But, yeah, I had the week before here, so I am prepared to play this tournament and I'm prepared for the weather.

Q.  One of the places where I teach there are quite a few Romanians, and they are talking about Halep, Halep, Halep.  You have a lot of great support.  I just wanted to let you know they are definitely, Oh, my gosh.  So tell us a little bit about your ‑‑you still live in Romania, correct?

Q.  Would you consider moving somewhere else, or Romania would be the only place you would consider as far as possibly living?
SIMONA HALEP:  You know, everywhere I go, every tournament I have a good crowd, nice crowd.  Everyone is supporting me, and many Romanians are coming to watch my matches.  Romania is a small country and we don't have like many top tennis players in this moment.
You know, I'm like I can say a star.  But, yeah, everyone is recognizing me on streets everywhere I go in Romania.  It's not easy, but it's nice.
I have to enjoy this moment.  It's the best moment of my life, so I really want to thank them for coming and for supporting me.  It's really nice to play with them because they give you more power, more‑‑ you know, you think that you have to be very focused for every point because they are, you know, supporting you a lot, and to show them that you really fight for every point.

Q.  Your results have gotten you a lot of attention in the past.  Do you feel pressure at all now?
SIMONA HALEP:  No, I don't feel.  I'm used to play like top seeded now.  I have for a few months already.
So I just go on court to play every match.  I know that every match is difficult.  Everyone wants to win against me because I was in the same situation few years ago.
So I just go on court to do everything and to fight for every point.  Every tournament it's really important for me, and every match, as well.

Q.  What does it mean for you to be able to fight back like you were able to after a little bit of a tough start in that match?
SIMONA HALEP:  You know, in Australia, you know, I lost that match against Makarova.  I didn't fight till the end.  I was very upset after the match, and I said that that one is the last match in my career that I'm not fighting.
I'm just trying to stay there, to stay focused.  You know, you can turn back the match at every point.  You have to stay there concentrated and to try everything and to run to all the balls.  This is my philosophy.

Q.  What do you feel like was the turning point for you?
SIMONA HALEP:  This match wasn't like a special point.  In second set at 2‑1, I just felt I started to feel my forehand.  There was the click and I said, I'm back on court and I can play my game.

Q.  You're familiar, I would imagine, with both players who are going to play the big match tonight in a few hours.  What are your thoughts on the match, and what are your thoughts on Serena coming back to play this tournament?
SIMONA HALEP:  I think that it's a good thing that she came back.  She's a great champion.  She decided to come here.  For me it's a big ‑‑I can say congrats to her, because she has to be here.  She's No. 1 in the world.
I think everyone will support her tonight.  I'm very curious, actually.  I will watch the match, but I think it will be okay.

Q.  You're on her side of the draw.
SIMONA HALEP:  Oh, it's too far (laughter).  I have many matches before.  First I have to take the next round and then we will see what is happening.

Q.  Do you look at the draw as a whole, or do you...
SIMONA HALEP:  No, I don't look at the draw, because I don't like.  Maybe superstition.

Q.  Many people, when they think about you, they think about a smart player.  They say, Oh, she's smart.  She knows how to strategically play those points.  Do you have any comment in that regard, that people, you know, many people say, you're a smart player.
SIMONA HALEP:  About who?

Q.  You're very smart.

Q.  That strategically you play the points very smart.
SIMONA HALEP:  Well, you know, I just wanted to improve more in this smart aggressive.  I just want to be very close to the baseline, but sometimes it's not easy with the hard players.  So I like to also to work for the defense and then to come back into the court and just to take the ball fast.
I think this is my style, and I'm working every day to, you know, to handle this.

Q.  Are you feeling 100% better with regard to the rib injury that you had?
SIMONA HALEP:  Yeah, I didn't feel pain till now hopefully.  So I'm happy that I'm okay.  I just feel okay now and ready to play.

Q.  How long have you felt free of pain?
SIMONA HALEP:  I had like 10 days after Dubai, or 12 days' break and treatment every day, so then I started to play a bit tennis without serve.
Then here when I arrived I served.  That's why I served so bad today.

Q.  Some of the players say that the balls are flying.  Can you comment on that and what do you think the courts are like?  Are they playing slow?  Fast?
SIMONA HALEP:  I think it's a bit fast, the court, but I didn't feel that the balls are flying.  Maybe because of the string.  If you string the racquets harder the balls are going normally.
I feel good on these courts.  I like.  Last year I played semis, so I'm confident on this surface.  So depends of the player.  For me, it's okay.  I like it.

Q.  How many pounds you put on your racquet, string?
SIMONA HALEP:  I know in kilos:  25, 24.

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