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May 31, 2018

Simona Halep

Paris, France

S. HALEP/T. Townsend

6-3, 6-1

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. This is not directly with your match, but I have a question for you about the women's draw. On the men's side there is Rafa Nadal and he's the clear favorite of this tournament. And on the women's side, it seems as though you and five or six other players are possible contenders for this title. Would you agree with that? And can you just talk about if you think this draw is open, if you can talk about it?
SIMONA HALEP: I would say top 10 in the girls, they have, like we have a possibility and the chance to win. So there are 10 girls, in my opinion, that can win this tournament.

I agree with what you said, and I think it's normal, because tennis now is a little bit changed. Everyone is there. So it's tough to say who is going to win this tournament in these days. We'll see. I don't know (smiling).

Q. If all go according to plan, you may face Caroline Wozniacki in a final here in Paris.
SIMONA HALEP: Very long, long way.

Q. How do you feel about that? Is that a frightening scenario? Is it a dream scenario? How do you feel about it?
SIMONA HALEP: I have no idea. I didn't think about that at all (smiling).

I don't know. Will be very nice to play again the final with Wozniacki like we met in Melbourne, but it's really far, and it's tough to talk about that.

Q. Have you ever smiled on court as wide as you did after coming in on that volley?
SIMONA HALEP: No, but you don't know why I smiled. Because before the match, Mr. Tiriac told me that when you go to the net, hit the volley, normal volley, not swing the volley everywhere (smiling).

Today when I did it, I just looked at him and he was, like (hands to the sky) finally. So I smiled. That's why I smiled. He made me smile. I never do that on court.

Q. It was a rare sight. Can you talk about the match? You said it was going to be a complicated one against Taylor, she's a very different type of player to play. What was your game plan and how well did you execute?
SIMONA HALEP: It was really tough even if the score looks pretty easy. Her balls were really tough to return, because of the topspin and the forehand, it's really, really hard. Lefty, as well. So I couldn't return my best way.

She was defending my short cross with the backhand so well, so I think she did -- she mixes everything, and it's really tough to find one rhythm.

I tried to stay focused. I got pissed a little bit sometimes, but it's normal when you play with a player so handy and talented.

I just tried to not rushing the balls, not rushing to finish the points.

But, you know, in the end matters if you win or not, so I won and I was really happy that I could finish also the first set and also the second set in that way.

I feel that I was much stronger in the second set. After three, four games I started to feel that I am there. So I can feel everything now.

Q. You face Andrea Petkovic next, which was a match here in semifinals which was maybe your biggest Grand Slam win at that time.
SIMONA HALEP: Many years ago.

Q. What do you remember about that match from four years ago, and what do you expect for the next match?
SIMONA HALEP: I expect a tough one, because she's hitting all the balls and playing flat. So it's gonna be tough.

She's fighting till the end. She never gives up. I will do the same. I remember that she's running very well, and that match was something like in the tiebreak. So I will expect a tough one, and I will watch a little bit of that match and to see what I have to play.

But normally I will keep my game.

Q. It's actually ten years since your junior championship here at Roland Garros. How do you see the tournament changed over this past ten years?
SIMONA HALEP: Whoa. Yeah, many things changed and also I have changed. I see different everything.

But back then I didn't have the chance to have all these things, to see all these things, and to be part of all these big things.

Now I see this tournament very special. I see that the atmosphere is great and the people are really nice in the crowd.

I always have their support, so makes it very special and also because I won ten years ago I feel like home here. So that's why I come every time to play with pleasure.

Q. You have spoken to us in the past about how you are working hard to make sure you're not too down on yourself and critical and that you are trying to...
SIMONA HALEP: How do I look now?

Q. Very happy.
SIMONA HALEP: Oh, that's good.

Q. You have got a glint in your eye, which is lovely to see. I just wanted to know, is that sense of happiness and freedom, do you think we are seeing that now on the tennis court? Does it make you feel differently about the way you play your tennis?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I feel happier on court now to play matches, and also when I practice, so I enjoy more the time.

You know, I also, in the past, I felt the pleasure, but I couldn't show it, so now I relax myself. I improved a lot in my thinking. I'm more positive. And maybe that's why everyone sees that I'm happier on court. I was the same but I couldn't show it.

Now I'm more like open to the people, I'm open also to the tough matches. So even if I have trouble during the matches, I like to stay there, to fight, to run for the balls. And if I have, like, a battle on court during the match, I like to feel that I'm there and I can feel it, I can play it, and if I win it, I'm really, really, like, not proud; really thankful on what I have done.

So everything changed in these years.

Q. You have been with Darren Cahill for a while now. He's known as one of the best coaches that there is. Wondering what it's like for you and how important he's been and how you guys are together now.
SIMONA HALEP: In my opinion, he made everything to me to be able to get the No. 1 seed. He told me few days ago, that when we started you were No. 2. I said, Yeah, but, you know, from No. 2 to No. 1, it's a long way.

So I think because of him, and his personality, he's very relaxed, he's Australian, so has to be like that, very relaxed, very open, he made me be the same, and to embrace more the pressure, the emotions, and to understand myself better.

So that's why I was able to have great results and to get to No. 1. So he's a great person and the best coach.

Q. Who was Roland Garros?
SIMONA HALEP: What do you mean?

Q. Who was Roland Garros, the man that the tournament's named after?
SIMONA HALEP: The -- I don't know.

Q. That's okay. No, we are doing a -- lots of people don't know. It's just interesting.
SIMONA HALEP: Can you tell me, please?

Q. Yeah, yeah, he was a World War I fighter pilot, very famous in France.
SIMONA HALEP: Oh, I have heard about this. Sorry. I have heard about this, yeah. But I was not that smart to say. Tough question (smiling).

Q. I think after your first-round match, I think you said you felt the nerves but not the pressure.

Q. As though those are two different things.
SIMONA HALEP: For me, yes.

Q. Can you explain how those are two different things?
SIMONA HALEP: The pressure is when you expect to win the match, and you feel like you have to go on court and just win the match. I feel like, like, pressure.

And the nerves, that you are excited to go on court but still you are very emotional because you go there on center court again, you see the people, the crowd. So the sensitive part.

The pressure, I think it's a little bit brutal, more brutal, and takes it only on the result. If you don't think about the result, I think there is no pressure there. So you take the emotions, you take the nerves, but is no pressure.

I don't know if I explained well, but -- yeah, is different.

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