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October 22, 2016

Simona Halep

Kallang, Singapore

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Simona.

Q. So if you have to sum up your year in one grade, what would it be?
SIMONA HALEP: What is that.

Q. If you had to sum up your year in a grade A to F, how would you grade your year?
SIMONA HALEP: My year was great because I won Madrid, my special tournament, and also Montréal.

And the best thing is that I'm here again for the third year.

Q. So pretty good. B+? B-? A+? A-?

Q. Congratulations for being here for the third year. How special is it for to you qualify for the third straight year, and what are you looking forward to the most for this competition?
SIMONA HALEP: It means a lot because in my opinion this tournament is very special because here are the best eight players of the world. Every match is like a final. You have no idea what to expect. You just come and play every match as good as you can.

I don't have expectations. Of course I want to win every match I play here, but it's going to be difficult. It's the last tournament of the year. I'm trying just to stay focused, to give everything I have one more week, and then to take a big holiday.

Q. How was your preparation heading into this tournament? Did you go home?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I been home for two weeks. I needed some rest with my family, with my friends. I played a lot of tennis. I did the training. Yeah, I was pretty professional before this tournament.

I went home in my hometown because I have a niece, so I had a great time. Now I'm ready to start.

Q. And this is a tournament where you're playing multiple matches and you know that. Is this the kind of tournament where you would like to bring family and have friends watching you knowing you can make a week of it?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, the previous two years I had my family here, but now I'm not anymore important. My niece is the most important person in my family. They are home, so I'm alone just with my team.

Q. You hold the winning head-to-head record over Angelique, but she won the last meeting in Cincinnati. Now how do you fancy your chances against her now?
SIMONA HALEP: Every time when I play against Angelique is tough match. We play like three sets always.

I expect very tough one. She had great year. She won many matches, two Grand Slams.

So I don't expect anything. I just have to play what I have to play against her. I know her pretty well, so it's going to be a tough one. But I'm not thinking about anything. First I have to play against keys.

Q. You've been in a Grand Slam final; you've been here a couple times already. How different are your preparations between the two, would you say?
SIMONA HALEP: It's no different. It's the same. I do the same preparation for every tournament. This one is a little bit tough because it's the last one and you have to still be focused. So it's not easy, but it's nice. It's a nice atmosphere here, and I always enjoy playing here. I have great memories from 2014. I hope to repeat that.

Q. On the court, what are you finding the conditions on the center court here, the stadium court?

Q. Like 2014?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah. For me it's the same. I always liked this court. It's a little bit slower. It's not that big. It is big, but it doesn't look huge. So I feel good.

Q. Then how does it feel to not be as important in your family anymore?
SIMONA HALEP: Much better. The attention is not on me anymore.

Q. Can I just ask what the group feeling is amongst you and all the other girls about Serena not being here? Do you feel it takes any gloss off the tournament? Is it still just as important? Does it make it kind of easier without her being there?
SIMONA HALEP: She wasn't here last year as well, so, yeah, it's tough for her because she's injured. I know that it's always tough to play when you have pain.

This tournament in my opinion is open. Everyone has a chance because the top 8, top 10. In tennis now I think the level is similar, so everyone can win it.

Aga is coming after a title last year, so maybe she has a lot of confidence.

Kerber is playing great tennis this year.

Everyone can win it. I think tournament is open.

Q. Talking about the field, it's still not set yet. We don't know if it's going to be Johanna or Sveta. What do you think about that, that it's really come down to the wire?
SIMONA HALEP: I think it's a bit tough for them because Johanna is here and waiting to see; Svetlana is playing the match now today for qualify. So it's not easy for them. It's a bit tough.

But, you know, I think both of them are excited to see what is going to happen. I think Svetlana is going to give everything she has to qualify here. It's a bit tough, but I think the people are working on this. They will change something because I think it's better for the players to know before.

Q. Qualifying as early as you did, how much pressure does that take off you?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I knew that I was qualified after US Open almost, and I didn't have that much pressure. You know, it's always nice to be qualified before Asia.

But still, it's not all about this tournament. Every tournament is important in my opinion. Always when we go to play a tournament we take it 100% seriously. Yeah.

Q. There are a few first-time qualifiers this year. Obviously this is your third year. It's a very specific tournament to know how to play, like it's a different type of pressure. What's the biggest lesson you've learned over time to play in Singapore?
SIMONA HALEP: Actually every year is different. Every year you are nervous. Every year you are excited to be here. Of course first year you have more energy. Like, Wow, let's see how it's going to work. I felt this in 2014.

Last year I was a little bit tired; now I'm better than last year. Every year is a little bit different. When you get experience it's easier for you to handle the situation.

So I feel -- yeah, with more experience I feel better now than previous years. But also the first year is the most special one for everyone.

Q. As you mentioned holidays before, I know you have full focus on this one, but then probably looking forward for the holiday. Last year you said you generally look forward to some cold weather; is it the same?
SIMONA HALEP: Same, but first I will go home to spend some time with my niece, to see her growing up, then cold for sure in Romania.

Q. You've had some memorable matches here before and beaten some of your opponents in finals this year. For you, how much does the past play in terms of your confidence, or you just put that behind you and just look forward and take each game as it comes?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, for sure I put everything behind me. I just want to take like a new year, new tournament. Actually the experience from 2014 is helping me, but still is going to be every match tough.

I don't want to think about any other results. I just want to take match by match and see how far I can go here.

Q. How confident are you in winning this year's WTA in Singapore? Thank you.
SIMONA HALEP: I can say I'm confident. I feel my game. I feel good on court.

But I cannot say that I'm can confident to win this title. I'm not thinking about that.

As I said, every match is going to be very difficult, so I just want to be focus for each one.

Q. If you could tell us what has been your highlight of 2016.
SIMONA HALEP: Very good year in my opinion. After four months the beginning of the year I started to build my confidence pretty well. I'm here again, so, yeah, I think it's been a good year.

I had very happy moments this year.

Q. How will you encourage more youngsters to take part in WTA?
SIMONA HALEP: Wow. It's a tough question for me. First thing I think they have to enjoy a lot playing matches. Always the pressure is on at every match, but they have just to build the confidence match by match, to believe that they can do it, to believe in their dream, and just go and play.

Q. Starting the year was really tough for you physically and having the results you had. You turned it around fairly quickly. Anything special you feel like you did to get yourself out of where you started?
SIMONA HALEP: I was healthy. That was the only one reason that I turn it this year. I was healthy and I just got back the confidence that I had last year.

Q. Obviously being here three years in a row you're somewhat familiar with the city. Curious if there is any particular dessert in Singapore you look forward to when you're here? How did you satisfy the sweet tooth?
SIMONA HALEP: Garden flower. I like it because I love flowers. I enjoy the time there, and I would like to go to zoo this year. I heard it's amazing.

Q. David was asking about desserts, like you like cheesecake and stuff.
SIMONA HALEP: Here is the chocolate mousse. I had already for three nights, so...

Q. When you come to a tournament like this, it's the end of the season, have you already sat down with Darren and looked back on the season and evaluated it as a whole, or do you wait to do that after it's all done? If you have talked about it, what have you said with respect to the year?
SIMONA HALEP: We didn't talk yet. I think we will talk after this tournament, and I hope he wants to continue with me. The year is finished, so we have to discuss that.

It's going to be all right. Yeah, if I talk with him about this it's going to be that, you know, I had some important matches this year that I have lost, and I just want to get better next year.

I think I lost because of mentally reason. With Serena at the US Open I think was mental reason that I lost that match.

Also she was stronger a little bit than me. Yeah, in Wimbledon I was close to win that match against Kerber. Yeah, I will speak with him about these things mentally more.

Q. What's the one aspect of your game that you changed this year that you've been happiest with?
SIMONA HALEP: Forehand. I feel stronger with my forehand. I feel more confident when I hit it and I can make winners now with it.

Q. How do you prevent yourself from having injuries? I find a lot of women, like Serena and other players, have been a lot of injuries. How do you prevent yourself from getting injuries? Thank you.
SIMONA HALEP: You never can like to take care of injury before because you never know what is going to happen on court.

Actually, I'm doing a lot of the exercises in the gym just to build my body, to get stronger. Then automatically the muscles are protecting everything. So I think in the gym is the best way to protect.

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