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September 24, 2018

Simona Halep

Wuhan, Hubei, China

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Let us know kind of what the last four weeks or so have been like for you. How much of it was relaxing and recovering, and how much of it was getting back onto the court and preparing for the final stretch of the season?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, actually the rest of the week, the first week of US Open, after I lost, I had a break. Then next Monday I started work. I work pretty hard home. I was motivated. I was ready to push myself to finish this year stronger than last year.

I came here with confidence, ready to play. So hopefully I will be okay, and everything is going to be better.

Q. I remember last year after the loss to Sharapova, you went back...
SIMONA HALEP: I did the same.

Q. Last year you were hitting buckets of balls, serving, that was kind of the takeaway from that match. This year did you have any sort of similar reaction?
SIMONA HALEP: Actually this year was everything, not just the serve. So I worked with everything. Actually, I played two times a day, which I don't do very often. I worked with everything. Also in the gym. So everything.

Q. Does it feel any different because this year you've already qualified for Singapore, you're No. 1 now, the motivation a little bit different than maybe this time last year, or does the motivation feel as strong as last year?
SIMONA HALEP: It's different. Last year when I arrived here, I was not No. 1. I was chasing it a lot. Yeah, it's different. But the motivation is still there. I really want to finish on No. 1 again. I have a chance, but I have to take it.

Hopefully it's going to be, like, not that stressful like last year, better. But, you know, it's always tough. So I expect everything.

Q. Now that the Grand Slam season is over, you probably had maybe time to think about the season. How would you summarize your season through the slams?
SIMONA HALEP: This summer or this year?

Q. Through the slams.
SIMONA HALEP: The slams.

Well, I started very well with the final. But it was an exhausting week, tournament, two weeks. It was tough to recover after that tournament. I was struggling a little bit. Then I didn't play very well. I had to take some breaks.

Then clay court, which is my favorite season, I did the maximum this year. So I'm really happy about that.

Then Wimbledon was too fast for me. After celebrating my first Grand Slam, was really tough to go there and be 100% again.

US Open, I don't want to talk about it (smiling). It was tough to lose again in the first round. But I cannot be sad or making drama because sometimes it's happening, and I have to accept it.

Q. The way you deal with a loss like that, have you improved in how you handle something like that? In what way, if you have?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I improved a lot. I didn't cry that much any more. Also I was sad. It was tough, you know, to just accept it that I'm out of the tournament in one hour after it started. So it was tough.

But I learned from those moments. Now I know better that anything can happen, so I'm ready for everything.

Q. I was asking the other players as well. This part of the season, what are the mental and physical challenges that you face to be pumped up for this part?
SIMONA HALEP: Definitely is the toughest one. It's the end of the year. It's really tough to want more to win matches, to play every day, but also it's a big challenge. So who is going to make a big result is strong.

I try just to do my best every time I come here. I didn't play very well in the last five years. I won maybe three matches, so...

Maybe this year is going to be better.

Q. Naomi Osaka, you played her, you know how well she can play. But the way she won the US Open and made the final in Tokyo, what are your thoughts about how she was able to pull it off?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, she was always able to do these things because she's a very good player. Her mental is strong. Even if she's young, she has many good things in her mind and also body. She has power. These days is really important.

I think she got the confidence after the great result that she's done in US Open. Then she just went with the flow. But she deserves that because she worked really hard, and she was close many times. She won Indian Wells, so she was close. It's good for her.

Q. Going back 12 months, sitting in that chair back then, how different do you feel as a person and as a player now, given everything that's happened the last 12 months, compared to last year?
SIMONA HALEP: Way different with everything. Also professional way, also personal way. I've changed a lot. I feel more confident in all the ways. I feel more relaxed. Even if the pressure is still on, I always said that when I feel the pressure, I play well. So it's good to be there.

But it changed. Also the pressure is not the pressure of the result any more, but is the pressure of how good I can be every day, how well I can perform every tournament. So this is my challenge now.

I try just to stay healthy because it's really important, and to stay motivated, not because I won a lot, but sometimes you are tired and you are struggling to wake up and to go to work.

I just try to make it easier and enjoyable, more enjoyable.

Q. You talk about the pressure, maybe it brings out the best in you. This year No. 1, outside of a few weeks in February, you've been No. 1 the whole time. Maybe last year if we were to think about that, it might be surprising because of how you were handling pressure back then. Are you impressed with yourself or surprised you've been able to handle the No. 1 pressure as well as you have this season?
SIMONA HALEP: I cannot say that I was surprised because, as we know, I was really close many times since last year, middle of the year. I kind of expected that I have a big chance to be here if I work hard and if I keep believing that there is a chance.

Of course, I am pleased with the way I've been this year. The fact that I was handling so well the pressure of being No. 1 gives me even more confidence, gives me also the relaxation [sic] that I'm able to do these things, and is nothing impossible. If I believe that, I can do more.

Q. How much pride do you take in the fact of how long you've been able to hold onto the No. 1, especially last year it was moving around quite a lot?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I'm really proud because these days many players are playing so well. The power is there. I'm not that tall, I'm not that powerful. But I was strong enough I think mentally to handle everything, even the tough losses, even the good wins. It's not easy, but I have a good team. I have good people around me that kept me focused, and also gave me credit of what I did.

Combined it was a great time during this year, and help me to go through it. Hopefully I can finish it.

Q. In the training yesterday you probably were injured. Any impact on any plans in the future?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah, I got injured yesterday a little bit with my back locked up. I don't know why. I had really tough 24 hours. But I'm hoping that tomorrow is going to be better and I will be able to play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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