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May 8, 2018

Simona Halep

Madrid, Spain

S. HALEP/E. Mertens

6-0, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was a heck of a win against a player who has had a really, really good start to the year. Can you talk us through the match a bit.
SIMONA HALEP: Oh, yeah, I knew she's coming with a lot of confidence. I had to start very strong, the match, and aggressive, which I did. After I played few games, I felt really good on court. I felt very confident that I can win that match.

I think I played well again. Is the second match of the tournament. I have a great feeling. It was a nice match, and I take it like an important one because I played against a girl that won two tournaments on clay so far this year.

It was a really good match.

Q. You obviously won here the last two years. You reached the final of the French Open last year, as well. How far off your best level do you feel? Do you feel like you're playing even better this year? Is confidence higher than ever?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's tough to compare. It's another year. I'm older one year. I have more experience, for sure. But, you know, you never know in tennis. You have to take day by day and match by match. At this level, everyone is playing really good tennis, really good level of tennis.

I have just to go there and to be focused, to be motivated to win every match I play, and to wait and see what is going to happen. I don't want to expect anything. I just want to enjoy and to believe that I have my chance to go through the end.

Q. You've settled very quickly into Madrid this time. What makes this place so easy to come out and play like that in the early rounds when sometimes players adapt to the conditions?
SIMONA HALEP: I like this tournament. I like the court a lot. I like also the conditions. I have many matches played here. I won many matches. I have confidence.

I think it's all about confidence here at this tournament and the pleasure to play. Many friends are coming. My family is here. It's a feeling like I'm home. Makes me feel more motivated and more relaxed.

Q. Next up is Kristyna, the other Pliskova. You have a very good record against Karolina. Do you think the fact that left-handed, right-handed, anything like that impacts the matchup? You played her here last year.
SIMONA HALEP: I remember I played against her. I know that it was a difficult match. She's serving pretty strong. Her forehand, left, yeah, it's very strong. I have just to watch a little bit how I played last year and to do it again.

I have confidence. I believe that I can win the match. But I always expect a tough one, and everything can happen during a tennis match. I will be just concentrated on what I have to do, just believe that I can win.

Q. When you're in this kind of form, how much are you actually focusing on what your opponent is bringing to the table? How much are you just going out there and playing your game?
SIMONA HALEP: Always before a match, I'm talking with my coach about what I have to do on court, what she's playing better, what she's playing stronger and less. I just have a plan when I go on court.

But most of the time I'm focusing on myself, what I have to do. I keep my style, let's say. I keep my ideas how I should play on this court.

Q. You mentioned your family and friends and everybody comes to Madrid, it helps make it a nice week. Does that, though, also take a lot of energy off the court? It's not as tight of a team as maybe at other tournaments. Secondly, how long are we away from seeing your niece at a tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah, I was just talking about her, that she's too young to travel. But I hope next year she can come to see me playing, to be at the tournaments. It's going to be a good start for her because, for sure, she's going to play tennis (smiling).

You know, it's nice off court to have friends next to you. My family's here. We have nice dinners. We laugh. We are making fun. It's relaxed here. I feel really, really good this tournament. Everything, it's easy. Everyone is taking care of me. I feel great here.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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