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June 8, 2017

Simona Halep

Paris, France

S. HALEP/K. Pliskova

6-4, 3-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. Three years later, how does it feel to be back in the Grand Slam final also here?
SIMONA HALEP: It's a great feeling. What can I say? It's nice. I feel different, anyway. I feel like I have more experience. I'm of course happy, but I'm not that excited. I'm looking forward, actually, to play it. I'm okay. I'm feeling good.

Today was a great battle there, big battle. Every point was very important. I felt like that on court, and I felt that I have to run for every ball. I have to be focused for every ball.

So good that I could do that in the third set for every, every single ball. So I'm happy with my performance.

Q. How surprised or how proud are you even of this tournament so far regardless of what's...
SIMONA HALEP: I'm not finished.

Q. Regardless of what's going to happen on Saturday, but considering the sort of question marks you had before the start of the tournament and how you battled through that and just navigated your way through into the finals?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, what I can say is about the ankle, the only one I think. I don't know how it stays okay there. Anyway, I feel during the match the pain, but I don't care. I'm not thinking about that.

But to be in the final, it's just a happiness thing. I just feel happy. Proud, I can say, because I think the mental part helped me a lot this tournament in all the matches, and today actually in the third set. In the second set, I had a little bit down mentally, but it was good after.

So I'm good. I'm happy. I just want to remain focused (smiling).

Q. As you just said, you want to stay focused. The tournament's not over. It's very clear from what you're saying. Is that how you felt three years ago when you did get to the final, or is that something that you learned that I shouldn't get too excited?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I learned. I learned many things during the years, not just after that final. Also semifinals in Wimbledon. Then US Open against Pennetta before that match.

So I know how to be. I don't change anything. It's just natural coming. Nothing special. It's of course a big match. It's a big challenge, as well. I will play a very young player. There is nothing to lose. I have just a big chance to get to things. I will go there and give my everything, for sure.

Q. How pleased are you that when you've been behind in matches that you have had the mental strength to battle back and no matter what the circumstance make sure you win? Is that a part of your game that you think has improved?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I think I have improved a lot in this part. I always had this fighting thing, but now I control it better and I control it on the positive way, so all good.

I feel good on court, and I feel that my game was pretty strong today and all the tournament. I hope in the final will be stronger. I need that.

Q. What do you expect from Ostapenko as an opponent?
SIMONA HALEP: Like today, similar?

Q. Do you think this was good preparation, playing Pliskova, even if Ostapenko is maybe even a little more aggressive or takes more risks or something?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I never played against her, I think. I don't know what to expect from her. I saw a little bit of her match today. In my opinion is similar to what I had today, so maybe's gonna be the same plan.

You never know with this kind of player, so I have just to stay there for every ball. Every ball is important against them. So I will be there and ready to fight.

Q. We saw in the celebration, very quiet, still business to do, not too excited. But amongst the team, you and Darren, Virginia, everyone, what has kind of been the mantra, I guess, over the last two weeks? What has been, I don't know, the discussion about what is this two weeks supposed to be?
SIMONA HALEP: We didn't talk about this. I heard many people around me that I'm favorite, and I was really only honest when I said I'm not. I'm not feeling that.

Of course I have the chance, because I played well in Madrid and Rome, but doesn't mean that it's gonna happen the same. But here I am.

I'm really pleased with the way I have been these two weeks. Three weeks, actually. My coach is focused, like me, and we want just to keep this. I stay with my three boys, I can say: trainer, physio, and coach. Every night eating, same routine, and one more to go.

Q. Not to put a negative on it, but when I take you back to the scan you had on your ankle, what were you feeling then? Did you think you would have the chance to be here? Was there panic?
SIMONA HALEP: I was scared, because they told me that it's broken. I had no idea what does it mean.

But I refused to accept that I cannot play, so I think I recovered faster mentally because of the positive thinking, and I really wanted to be here.

So didn't matter what the scan showed.

Q. Obviously you say you want to stay focused and everything, but you must have given some thoughts to the fact that you could leave here in the No. 1 ranking. Can you talk about that?
SIMONA HALEP: I can (smiling). I said earlier that I will play for two things: My first Grand Slam and No. 1 in the world. It's a big challenge, a big chance.

I think I have the game. I have the mentality to win, but it's gonna be tough. I expect her to give everything she has, to hit all the balls, to play with confidence. But I'm confident, as well.

I'm ready to face her, and I'm ready to face another final. Yeah, it's a big challenge. It's a big thing. If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen, two things in the same time.

So it's gonna be amazing. I don't know what to say more, because I cannot feel it. We will see after.

Q. You have spoken about being the favorite and, actually, Pliskova said she would bet everything she has on you winning.
SIMONA HALEP: She's nice always (smiling).

Q. In some way, will that give you even more confidence? Just talk about going up against a player who is so young and has nothing to lose.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, of course, yeah, she's much younger than me. Of course she has nothing to lose. It's a big thing for her what is happening.

But I can feel that I'm in the same position. I feel that I have many years ahead. So is just a new opportunity to do it if it will happen.

I played once before here, and I was very close to win it. But if it's gonna happen this time, it's gonna be great. If not, I will have many years ahead to work and to replay some finals. We'll see.

Q. How do you think you have changed the most in the last three years since that final, either...
SIMONA HALEP: Different player. I think I'm different player.

Q. Just describe what's different now.
SIMONA HALEP: The game? It's stronger, and it's different. I play I think more about the game, and I play smarter, in my opinion, and also physically. I'm much better, stronger. Attitude better. I think I'm different player, and I'm much stronger than 2014.

Q. You have had Virginia in your corner for several years, and she's won this title. I'm just wondering...
SIMONA HALEP: I just want to win it to beat her. I'm joking.

Q. Have you ever spoke about that experience for her?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I'm not talking, because it's different many years ago. Different tennis, different conditions, everything different.

I have been here in this position, so I don't need advices how to handle the pressure. I just will talk with my coach about the tactic, and that's it. Nothing else.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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