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August 27, 2018
New York, NY, USA
K. KANEPI/S. Halep
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Do you still think withdrawing from Connecticut was a good idea?
SIMONA HALEP: Yes. Yeah, it was. I mean, I was tired after Cincinnati, so I needed to rest. I took the rest.
But today I just lost. I didn't play great, but she played really well. I knew that she can play well here. She played quarterfinals last year.
I didn't find the balance today. I couldn't play better. So that's it.
Q. Before the tournament you said it was a tough first-round matchup, and you knew that. Going out on to court today, what did she do that maybe surprised you or that she was maybe landing more than she was missing?
SIMONA HALEP: She started pretty well and pretty strong, so those first games were tough. Actually, I expected her to play like that without fear and hitting the balls really strong.
I cannot say much about this match, just that I didn't really feel the ball. But also, she played really strong and pushed me back, so it was tough. It is tough. But it's okay.
Q. After the French Open you spoke about how much pressure had been relieved from you, but things have not gone right at your two major tournaments since. What are the similarities between Wimbledon and here, do you think, for these struggles?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's different because here I was tired, but positive tired because I played so many matches in Montreal and Cincinnati. So I didn't feel pressure of, you know, after wining a Grand Slam, feeling the pressure that how it's gonna be now. No, I didn't feel that.
Today I just was not my day, and as I said, the balance was not there. I couldn't feel myself strong on the court to win this match.
I was actually practicing okay yesterday and two days ago, but that's it. It's just a day, and it's a bad day for me. But also, she deserved to win because she was playing better than me today.
So it's nothing about pressure. It was just a day.
Q. Do you find it more difficult to find your best game and your confidence earlier in a big tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: I can say yes.
Q. Why is that?
SIMONA HALEP: Because I think every player is struggling a little bit in the first round. It's always about the nerves. Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human. So it's the same thing.
For me, it's more difficult in the first rounds, because I'm more emotional. That's why I need a good start.
But I'm not scared about that. I have won so many first rounds and also tournaments after tough first rounds. So I'm not focusing on that, but sometimes can happen, and today happened. It's nothing. It's not a drama, but it's tough.
Q. New stadium, did that play in your mind at all? First time ever anybody had played on that stadium?
SIMONA HALEP: Actually I'm happy I was first one there, even if I lost (smiling).
It is a nice stadium, and every court here, it's beautiful. It was all good.
Q. Do you think you have to rethink how you approach the US Open, what tournaments you play? Because obviously you played two big ones, but you were fatigued from that. Do you think you have to think about your scheduling a little bit more?
SIMONA HALEP: No, it's not about that. And always when I win matches, it's good for my confidence. Here, it was just a little bit too much because I played two matches in same day. So schedule was a little bit tough coming here.
But I don't blame that. It just was a bad day. And I never play my best tennis here, even if I did quarterfinals, semifinals. So always I feel like my game is not in the best, at the best level. But always I fought for every match.
So today I did also, but it didn't go my way. Just like that.
Q. Still you were able to get back into the second set --
SIMONA HALEP: 4-All, 40-15.
Q. You're hearing the fans chanting your name there and trying to rally you.
SIMONA HALEP: That was great, and I really want to thank them, because actually, to be honest, I didn't expect that. It was, I think, maybe the first match when I was really down a set and 3-0, and the crowd was really, was strong with me. So I felt the energy.
I fought for every ball. I missed three balls, easy balls at 4-All, 40-15. So it's on me. I couldn't take that game, and then she served pretty well.
So, yeah, I'm a little bit disappointed that I didn't make that game. Maybe I could take that second set and then you never know.
But, yeah, it's just tough to talk now about that. Now it's gone.
Q. Did you make any tactical adjustments in the second set? Looking back, is there anything you'd like to do more?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I changed a little bit the tactic. I wanted to play longer. But when I wanted to play longer, the ball was going three meters out. So I didn't really feel the ball.
I knew what I had to do. Didn't work. And now, if I want to go back on court, it's just I will leave the stress and the emotions away and just playing the match normal.
Q. (Question about coaching advice after the match.)
SIMONA HALEP: He just gave me a hug and he said that it's all right. He's positive.
Q. You mentioned that you're not playing at the top of your game ever here. Do you have any explanations?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really. Maybe the noise in the crowd, the city is busy. So everything together. I'm a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places.
But I did great results here. I'm not complaining. I just say that I don't really feel 100% my game when I step on the court here. But maybe in the future it's gonna change something, I will change something and it will be better.
Q. Losing tennis matches is such a big part of the game. Is it getting easier to deal with losses, or is it still tough? Just talk about having to deal with losses throughout your career.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, after Cincinnati's final was not that easy. Today it's easier, because I really couldn't do my best game. So because of many other reasons, stressed a little bit, emotions. So you cannot control everything all the time.
It is easier -- actually, after wining a Grand Slam, the pressure is off. So I'm trying just to relax more. But it's always tough to lose a match, because I'm very competitive player. And also when I go on court, I want to give everything I have.
So it's tough to lose. Sometimes I have tears. It's normal. But now I feel better. I feel that it just was a bad day, and I will move on fast.
Q. Some people have said that it is very loud in that new stadium. Did you find that to be the case? Were you distracted? Could you hear fans speaking?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really. During the points, no. They were very okay. But, yeah, in the breaks and between the points, it's noisy. It's normal. Every court is noisy here, and this makes this tournament special. So you don't find this atmosphere anywhere else. So it didn't bother me during the points.
Q. Less or more so than the old stadium or Ashe? Less or more noisy?
SIMONA HALEP: I think the same. I cannot compare. Sorry.
Q. You said you're always more emotional towards the beginning of a Grand Slam or a tournament. Why is that? Are you talking more like nerves or what are the emotions?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, nerves. Because I'm born like this, I think (smiling). Yeah.
Q. You spoke about what a tough player Kaia is. This has been regarded as the toughest quarter of the draw. What do you think the possibilities are for her moving on?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, she's a very strong player, so she can -- she has a big chance to do a great result. Like last year also was better. It's second time when I played against her and always I felt that she has a very powerful game, so I knew about this.
I think she has the good game to go forward in this tournament. And as you said, yeah, our part is very tough, the part of the draw. Actually Darren told me in the first thing is the toughest one, so I knew that it's going to be tough.
Q. Serena possibly ahead in two matches for her.
SIMONA HALEP: Of course, yeah. But it's going to be interesting, because both of them are very powerful. So who is going to be more inspired in that match I think has the better chance.
Q. Do you think you need to make any changes in your staff in order to make situations like this?
SIMONA HALEP: No, definitely not, no.
Q. Your fellow Romanian, Buzarnescu, broke through, she had a big win in San Jose. Then three days later she has that terrible injury. Is she a friend of yours? Have you spoken to her? Just talk about after all those years trying to come back on the tour, then, boom.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, is impressive what she has done this year, and I know her since long time ago. Even if we are not very close friends because of the age, she's older than me, I know that she was struggling with injuries, many injuries, and was tough. And then she wanted to do university, so she was great on that part.
And now, coming back to tennis and doing these results is amazing. I feel so bad that she got injured in that match. She was, like, going up and up. I don't know exactly, and I don't want to talk about her injury, because I'm not sure 100% what is there, but I have asked her how she's feeling and I got some messages back. So I hope she's gonna recover fast, because she has the chance to go further.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports