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March 13, 2018

Simona Halep

Indian Wells, California


7-5, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk about that match. That looked very good. You were very comfortable out there today.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it was much better than the previous one, because the ball was coming flatter. I felt better, the rhythm, and also the touch of the ball.

So I think I played also much better in the second set. I got a rhythm, and I just moved her more than first set.

Q. Was the first set situation due purely to the rhythm aspect or the fact that you really -- you said the other day you really didn't know too much about playing her.
SIMONA HALEP: Both things. Also, I was a little bit tired in the morning when I woke up. The previous match was really tough for my body. I stayed so many weeks off with injury and now coming back, so I was a little bit tired, and also I missed too much in the first set.

And then I just got the idea what I have to play against her, and was much easier.

Q. How important was that coaching timeout in the first set with Darren?
SIMONA HALEP: It was really important, because he just told me what I have to do. I knew that I have to change something, but I didn't realize what exactly.

So it was a good chat. I did exactly what he said after that.

Q. What do you think has made the ball fly a little bit flatter today? It's still quite hot and sticky out there.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, the ball is flying, but she's not rolling that much like Caroline before. Caroline was hitting with a lot of topspin and was really tough. I was hitting all the balls over the shoulder, so my shoulders were sore.

But today was a little bit calmer, the rhythm. I could play my game easier.

Q. You mentioned that you're quite tired. How is everything else holding up? The foot?
SIMONA HALEP: It's okay. I have no pain. Just the body is tired because of the matches. Every match was tough, and I played three already. So it's normal.

Q. You said you played her in practice the other day? Is she your practice partner?
SIMONA HALEP: We practice together. I practice with the girls every time is possible. Actually, I think she got the set in practice (smiling).

So I knew it's going to be a tough one. I was ready.

Q. Looked like as the match progressed you were getting more free points on serve and you really made her work. How did you feel about your rhythm on serve?
SIMONA HALEP: I knew that I have also to hit the ball, to hit the serve. But also if I hit with the more topspin, she doesn't have the right point to hit, so that's why I tried to mix the rhythm.

But, you know, I think it was pretty okay. I'm not making all the games with the serve, we know that, but I'm trying just to get better, and I think today was okay.

Q. You have Petra Martic next. Curious about your thoughts on that one.
SIMONA HALEP: I don't believe we played in professional. We played just in juniors. But I watched her a few times.

She's serving strong and the kick is going to be tough. Also, the forehand, she has a big forehand. She's coming to the net.

So I know a little bit how she's playing, but I will focus on myself like always. I just want to have the plan what I have to do. I will talk with my coach tomorrow, and that's it. Nothing else. Nothing special.

Q. Are there different emotions playing somebody for the first time on tour since you played them in juniors? Is that a different dynamic going in?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I feel the same. Before every match I have emotions, so it's fine.

Q. Do you remember that match against or those matches against her in the juniors?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really. Long time ago. So I'm getting old (laughter). I know it's going to be tough. This is what I have to say.

Q. What do you learn or pick up when you come back to a stadium to watch Venus and Serena play?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it was my idea last night, actually.

Q. Not Darren's?

It's always nice to watch them. I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid. So it's a great thing what they do for sport, and it's great that tennis has them.

It was really fun to come out here and watch the game. And also, you know, I have many things to learn from them. That's why I'm trying just to go in to watch every time I can.

Q. How much of the match did you stay and watch, bearing in mind that you were the first match today?
SIMONA HALEP: The first set and a little bit from second. And then I left, because I had to eat (smiling).

Q. It was a very nice gesture. Not often do we see a world No. 1 sitting and watching another match, let alone a big match like that. People were kind of commenting on it a little bit. Do you take that into consideration at all, kind of the leadership or ambassadorial role that you have as a world No. 1?
SIMONA HALEP: No. I'm the world No. 1 in this moment, but I just watched the best player in the world.

So, no, I'm not thinking about anything. I just do what I feel. I felt to come because I admire a lot the sisters.

Q. You said before you had many things you can learn from them. What can you learn from them?
SIMONA HALEP: Everything. Also the motivation, the game, the way that they are hitting in important moments, the way they stay there and they are focused for every ball. So everything in general I have things to learn.

Q. Would you ever see yourself playing at that age?
SIMONA HALEP: No chance (smiling).

Q. Serena said the same thing when she was young.
SIMONA HALEP: Oh, I hope I will not, actually (smiling).

Q. What do you think of the point of maybe the WTA should look at a rule change regarding a situation where a woman player comes back after a pregnancy after maternity leave? Should there be something introduced, "protected seeding," not just protected ranking?
SIMONA HALEP: Definitely. And I was thinking about Serena in this tournament, and also we were talking a little bit with my coach. And I think she should have been actually No. 1 seed in this tournament because she left as No. 1 in the world.

And to give birth, it's the best thing in the world. It's more than a sport. So I think she should have been ranked as she left. Not taking the ranking because she didn't play tournaments, but just protected ranking for -- I don't know how many tournaments you have, like, eight. She could be the No. 1 seed for that, for those tournaments. This is my opinion.

Q. You're 17-1 on the year. Do you feel like you're 17-1 on the year? That you have only lost one match and won 17?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I didn't think about that. But I know that I lost the final and was really tough, so that made everything. And then in Doha I couldn't play anymore.

So, yeah, I am confident. I feel the game. But I'm not thinking about losing and the winning. I just want to improve my game to keep actually the game that I had in Australia and just going forward.

Q. Now, football. Darren wants a rematch. Do you think he should give a rematch and would you give him a rematch?
SIMONA HALEP: Any time he wants. Any time. I'm not nervous about that in football (smiling).

Q. Would you give him a handicap so -- give him like, an advantage so he can feel better?
SIMONA HALEP: No. We start at the same level. I don't give advantage for nothing. He has to take it.

Q. Am I right that the best Romanian footballer is from Constanta? Hagi?
SIMONA HALEP: Constanta. Yeah.

Q. What is it about -- what's in the water there?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't know. All the best tennis players are from Constanta. Tecau No. 1 in doubles; Pavel, 13 in the world. The president of the Federation is from Constanta. So everyone good is from Constanta. The city is great.

Q. Is it something in the water?
SIMONA HALEP: I will give birth in Constanta for my daughter or my son. Maybe will be a champion in tennis (smiling).

Q. And then Tiriac took all the money.
SIMONA HALEP: Ah, he's too good, too smart.

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