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May 16, 2018

Simona Halep

Rome, Italy

S. HALEP/N. Osaka

6-1, 6-0

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Simona, please.

Q. You saved four break points in your first service game, and then it felt like cruise control. Just tell us what clicked after that?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah. I think that game was really important. I thought about it, that I have to win it. Because if she takes 2-0 lead, it's a little bit more difficult.

I didn't give up that game. So it was really important.

And then at 3-1, I felt that I'm a little bit ahead. And I just relaxed myself, and I opened the court much better.

Q. How well were you moving out there? It seemed like she had no space to hit the ball, it seemed like, in the rally.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah. I moved very well.

I like that court. Actually, I love that court, Pietrangeli.

I love -- I like to slide on clay. So, it's easy, a little bit easy for me.

I'm more relaxed than Madrid, and I feel much better. So, I'm enjoying the time on court, which is the most important thing now.

Q. You already played her three times this year alone, and it feels like every match was a completely different story. How did you approach this one, and did you feel this was the most comfortable?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, in Melbourne I played against her, and it was also a very good match for me.

Then in Indian Wells, I don't know what happened in that match. I couldn't play my best tennis, and she played with confidence there.

I was just motivated, remembering that match. And I was focused that I have to play as I planned before. And it was a good tactic.

Q. When you say that you get the sense you're ahead in a set, you know, regardless of the score line, just playing through rallies against a player, what does that feel like for you? How do you know that you're playing a little bit better than your opponent?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I was not thinking about that I was ahead, the score. I just felt that the game, my game, is getting better against her. And I play smarter tennis.

So, she started really well, the match. She started to crush the ball. And I was a little bit, you know, in defensive point.

But then, I just tried to build my points and to build a little bit of space to open the court and trying to make winners. It's tough to make winners on this court for me. But, it's good when I can build the point.

Q. When you saw that you were on Pietrangeli, did that give you a bit of extra motivation or excitement? Because you said you love that court. And I think a lot of players love that court. Is that a bit special? It's not the center court, but it's a very special court.
SIMONA HALEP: I'm not looking to play on center courts all the matches.

I loved when I heard that I play on Pietrangeli. I hope next one will be, also, there.

I was excited to go back there. Last year, I played a very good match against Pavlyuchenkova there. So, I have very good memories.

So it doesn't matter where I play. I just want to feel good.

Q. It's funny with that court, because technically it's the Number 3 court.

Q. But everybody loves it and everybody gets excited to play on it.
SIMONA HALEP: I think it's the best here, yeah.

In my opinion.

Q. It's the best one here?

Q. Where do you rank it in terms of courts all over the world?
SIMONA HALEP: That's tough. So many courts, I don't really remember now.

But in Europe, I can say all the tournaments I feel that is the best. The atmosphere, the vibes are really nice. And you feel the people close, which is nice.

Q. There also aren't that many places where at 11:00 in the morning in the middle of the week and the crowd is like that. Do you feel that here, more than other places, the people really show up?
SIMONA HALEP: Here, it's the best crowd I ever seen in the tournaments. Doesn't matter the hour, doesn't matter the day. They are here.

And the fact that you get so close to them, you feel like all the energy. And you feel like every time it's packed.

So, yeah, today was amazing. At 11:00 I was surprised a little bit it was packed.

Q. You have either Madison or Donna Vekic in your next round. So, I presume that this match is a pretty good preparation for either of those players.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah.

Every match is going to be different, and I expect tough one against both players. It's not easy to play against them, but it's clay. So, maybe I can think that I have a better chance here.

But, you never know now. On clay, also, the big hitters can play very well.

So, I expect a tough one. I'm not expecting 100% to win. So, I will go there and I will fight. I just want to play like today, to make my clay court game. And then we will see.

Q. When I spoke to you in Madrid, you told me one of the special moments for you is when you went to a concert of Andrea Botticelli. I believe you also, this week, saw him perform. Just talk to me about that experience.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah. First time when I met him was last year here in Rome in August. Lucky I lost first round in the US Open where I could get the concert (laughing).

It's amazing and I'm a big fan, huge fan, since many years ago. I just love the way he's singing and all the stories .

It was amazing, also, to be here few days ago so close. It was a nice experience. And I relaxed myself. So maybe that's why I played so well today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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