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August 24, 2018

Simona Halep

New York, NY, USA

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Simona Halep.

Q. (Question about being No. 1 player in the world.)
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's a great feeling, for sure. I can say I got used to it. I had few months there. It's always a pleasure and always something special when I hear it.

Q. What really changed about you as a person after winning a Grand Slam?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, definitely my dream came true. Inside myself something changed. I'm more relaxed. I feel thankful for everything I achieved. Also these two were my dreams, to be No. 1 in the world and to win a Grand Slam. Always I say No. 1 in the world without a Grand Slam, you are not a real No. 1. I said that before.

After French Open, I really started to believe that I'm a real No. 1. So I think made me more confident, made me more relaxed. I have different desire now when I'm on court. I enjoy more the time.

Q. You're obviously a favorite. Do you feel the pressure?
SIMONA HALEP: After French Open, I didn't feel the pressure any more because I like to be in this position. It's the best thing to be there. I can say I have a big chance for this tournament, but it's tough to say that I'm the favorite one, even if I'm No. 1.

You can see now the level, it's very tough. Everyone is playing at maybe the highest level. Every match, every round is difficult. I'm just looking forward to play my first one. If I will win it, I will focus on the next one just like that.

Q. (Question about the summer.)
SIMONA HALEP: Well, of course, it was a tough summer, but it was a good summer. I take only the positive things. I had many matches, good matches. I was tired in the end a little bit. I got tough few days after Cincinnati final, but now I recovered, I feel strong again.

When I have matches, I feel more confident. Without matches, I don't feel that safe, even if I train a lot, so I'm in a good position.

Q. So everybody is kind of looking at you. Who are you looking at? Who is standing out to you?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's tough to rate this. But definitely everyone from top 10 can win this tournament. Every match is a tough one. As I said, I played last week, the first round was tough. I did three sets. I don't feel that myself is up and all the others are somewhere down. Everybody is even, and I try to win my matches when I step on the court.

Q. You open against Kaia Kanepi, made the quarterfinals here last year. Very good player. Talk about the potential challenge of playing her.
SIMONA HALEP: You want to know my reaction when I heard (laughter)? That's tough.

Yeah, it's very tough, very tough draw for sure. It's going to be a big challenge. Last year I lost in the first round, so it cannot be worse than that. You know, I feel confident. I feel that I have the game to win against her, but she's very dangerous. I just want to get ready for that match and put everything I have into that.

Q. In terms of the motivation, pressure going into this tournament, the No. 1 ranking is secured, not up for grabs, you qualified for Singapore, does any of that change the amount of pressure?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't feel the pressure. Honestly, I don't feel it. I feel it's a big chance to get some points. It's a big chance to put dream that I'm able to win one more big tournament. It doesn't mean it's going to happen.

I'm just taking this tournament important and relaxed.

Q. What is the difference emotionally when you step on the court as the No. 1 player in the world and being a Grand Slam champion?
SIMONA HALEP: For sure it's special when I hear. The gentleman, when he's announcing the players, it's very special and very nice. The crowd is always very happy when they announce.

I take it like maybe the biggest thing in my career, the biggest feeling that I ever had. But when you start the match, you forget that you are No. 1, you have all the titles. You just have the battle ahead in front of you. You have just to fight for it, so I'm doing that.

Q. So much attention on you. How do you separate your private and tennis life?
SIMONA HALEP: The last four years has been the same, a little bit of attention. Also home it's a little bit more difficult. But I got used to it. I feel natural. I feel relaxed now. It's part of my life, so I try to embrace it, to take it easier as much as possible.

Q. If you never played tennis again...
SIMONA HALEP: Wow, that's not going to happen.

Q. If you didn't, what would be the one match in your entire career you would remember forever and treasure the most?
SIMONA HALEP: The first Grand Slam final in 2014 when I really felt that I can win the match, and I lost it. I feel sad that I lost that match, and the way I lost it. So that one is going to be the most important I can say.

Q. You played all over the world. What's different about playing in New York and the US Open?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, definitely the night sessions, and also the crowd is very loud. It's something, like, different, special, the city. The buildings in Manhattan, I'm staying there, so it's very special and different. That's why it makes it a little bit, you know, different and special to play US Open. It's a huge tournament, many fans. It's great to be close to the fans. I think everything together.

Q. A lot of players will talk about the importance of having fun on court. What do you enjoy about being on court? What's fun to you playing difficult matches?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, when I start the match, I don't enjoy any more. I'm really focused. Like, I have a battle in front of me. I have to do everything I can to win the match. I'm very competitive, so that jumps into my personality on court.

But when I'm practicing and also when I'm at the tournaments, I enjoy the time more. I feel like it's better when you are like that because you are relaxed and you can be natural, so you can do anything you feel.

Q. I can't remember if you're a player who looks at the draw or not. Do you know what your draw looks like after first round?
SIMONA HALEP: Darren told me it's the toughest part. I think it's enough. I don't know every player, but he told me that it's the toughest part. It's enough to know.

Q. Does that impact, just knowing something like that, your coach says, It's a cakewalk to the semis or...
SIMONA HALEP: We didn't talk about semis. He talked just for first round, then probably the next ones. We didn't call the names of the draw.

Q. If you could play French Open against anyone, who would it be?
SIMONA HALEP: Justine Henin. I would love to play her final of Grand Slam.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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