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May 20, 2016

Simona Halep

Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. How has Paris been treating you so far? How have practices been going on court?
SIMONA HALEP: I feel great here. Everything, it's nice. Yeah, the practices went well. A bit cold yesterday, but was okay. I had the chance to practice before the rain, so today I'm all done.

I'm happy that I could practice. I'm looking forward, actually, to start the tournament. Yeah, two more days left. We are almost there.

Q. When you come back to a place like this, does the memory, the good feeling from 2014 seep in, or do you think back to last year where things didn't go quite so well?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, no, last year not at all. Two years ago I have great memories. Actually from the juniors I have good memories. I like this tournament. I feel good on this clay. The conditions are good for me.

So, yeah, I feel okay. Now I'm also with confidence. I feel stronger than beginning of the year. I feel that I have my chance here, so I just try to play day by day better and to believe that I can win matches.

Q. What should we think of your season so far? What do you think of your season so far?
SIMONA HALEP: Clay or hard season? Clay season is a good season. I started very well, even if I lost the match in Stuttgart. Was a good thing for me.

The hard court season was tough because I was very sick at the beginning of the year and end of the last year.

But, you know, we have to learn from every day, from every match, and just keep going, keep working, because some day you will start again to feel the game and to have the good feeling in your hands.

So I started to have it now. I feel it. I just want to hold it very well.

Q. For you, Darren specifically, but not just about Darren in particular, when you have a coach who is a former player, what can that coach give you or bring to you that a coach who hasn't played on tour do?
SIMONA HALEP: I think Darren, because was a former player, he was top 20, something like that, I think he knows the emotions during the matches. Also when you're nervous. Also when you're a little bit disappointing during the matches.

He can give advices, good advices to calm you down a little bit, to tell you that it's not over yet if you are disappointing during the match.

Yeah, it's better that the coach have the feeling from the matches, because it's big difference between during the match feeling and out-of-the-court feeling. Because the coaches that didn't play, they cannot feel exactly what is happening during the matches.

Q. What are your memories of when you won the juniors here?
SIMONA HALEP: My memories? Yeah, I remember that I played against a Romanian in the final. I had set and 5-1 and I lost the second set. I won the third one 6-2, something like that. It was my dream to win a Grand Slam in juniors, not to be No. 1. But after that week, I was No. 1 for a week, something like that.

Yeah, after that, that title, I said that I stop playing juniors. So it was a good finishing of juniors, and always this tournament would be special for me.

Q. Do you remember specifically kind of the experience of playing the juniors here and then going on to win it? Like when you first got to Paris, did you think, I can win this, or at one point did it start to change?
SIMONA HALEP: Two times before losing -- before winning the title I played and I lost in second round or third round. I didn't expect actually that I will win this title here in French Open.

But, you know, the year when I came here I won before good tournaments, juniors tournaments, and gave me more confidence. Here when I arrived I felt -- I feel the game to play on these courts. So, yeah, I felt it, and it was really nice.

Q. The game is more and more powerful. How do you manage with your little height to...
SIMONA HALEP: I'm not very short. (Laughter.) Many players are shorter than me. (Laughter.)

Yeah, it's not easy because the power dominates a little bit now, but still I feel strong on my legs. I feel that I have enough power to play against them, but I have just to keep my style: a little bit creative on court and a little bit opening the court more.

Q. Madrid, obviously you played well there. The conditions there are very different from those in Paris. Players who succeed in Madrid don't always replicate that success here. What is the challenge? How different is it playing there and playing in Paris?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it's a big difference between these tournaments because the altitude and the conditions of playing.

Yeah, I played well two years ago there final and then I came here and I did final, as well. So is not about me when you said that the players who are playing there good, they are not playing here. It's different.

Today when I practiced I felt very heavy the ball. I was practicing with Carla and the coach, he said it's different than Madrid. I said, I want to go back to Madrid, because there I felt very well the game.

Here I feel it well, but I still need couple of days just to feel it like 100%. But I always liked these courts. They are a little bit faster and I can play my game, to be more aggressive, and also to open the court better.

Q. Did it help you to train with Victoria Azarenka two days ago in order to be the most efficient rapidly?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't get it.

Q. Practicing with Azarenka, did that help you?
SIMONA HALEP: With every player helps me. Every practice is important. It's good to practice with the players. Yeah, it helped me, and I felt a good rhythm. I had a good rhythm.

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