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February 15, 2019

Simona Halep

Doha, Qatar

S. HALEP/E. Svitolina

6-3, 3-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. What was going through your mind at 4-1 in the third?
SIMONA HALEP: Nothing much. Just that I don't want to give up. I felt a little bit pressure that I'm going to lose the match. But I tried to concentrate, to stay calm, and I did it pretty well.

Q. What do you think Elina did to step up her game in the second set that made her so tough towards the end? What did you feel she did?
SIMONA HALEP: She played amazing. She moved very well. She hit the ball strong. She didn't miss much. So I think was a very high level of tennis today, and I'm really proud that I could win the match against her.

Q. Just given your head-to-head and previous history, how satisfactory is this win for you?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I'm happy because I didn't give up, and the two finals that I played against her in Rome I gave up and I was not ready to fight. Now I change that, and it makes me happier, because I showed myself that I'm able to do that.

Q. Last year you had to pull out. You were making the semis. You had a foot injury, very painful. From there to reaching here, and now you're in line to be the fourth player, if you win tomorrow, to lift that beautiful trophy, as you said. Can you describe it, like, how was it, like, last year you were having all these injuries. This year you have had an amazing run till now.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah, last year I was really disappointed that I have to pull out. It's never easy to give up a tournament, a semifinal. I like here. I play always good tennis.

So today I was more motivated. When I feel healthy, I give everything on court. That's why I could win today, because it was a difficult one. I have another chance to play a final here where I like a lot, this tournament.

It's a big challenge, also. It's going to be a tough match. The final is always a tough one with extra pressure, extra emotions. I feel ready. I will recover fast, and tomorrow I will give everything I have to win it.

Q. When you feel you're fighting like you did today, and like you did again in the quarterfinals, do you feel at a level where you're hard to beat? Or do you feel that about your tennis?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I feel good on court. I feel strong. I feel that if I don't give up, my chance is bigger to win every match I play.

So I try just to get better, to be better on court every day I step on the court. So I think these things together make me a better player.

Q. Given that you were so tired, you know, coming into this tournament, and then with every match that you played here, you know, is it as much a physical exercise coming back as it is a mental, or is it more mental than it is physical? Can you talk about that?
SIMONA HALEP: Both of them. Without physical, you cannot get back on the match. But also, the mental part is really important, maybe the most important thing. But definitely today I was stronger physically, as well, because against Svitolina is never easy to win a match. She's very strong also on the legs.

So I think I was strong with everything. That's why I was able to win.

Q. As you said, you fought very strong and very tough. Did you feel it's your responsibility to play and to perform that well because you are No. 1 seed and you have a lot of support?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't think about the seeding. I just feel that I want to improve more and more in myself and also as a tennis player. That's why I decided, I promised myself that I will not give up anymore during the matches.

If I lose because the opponent is better, then it's fine. But I don't want to lose the match on my hand.

I feel no pressure. I feel I enjoy the time on court. And I enjoyed the atmosphere, because the crowd is really nice to me.

Q. Would you give it to the crowd? 1-4 down and then almost 7 deuces, almost 13, 14 minutes. Then again in the next game you broke her for almost 8 minutes that game. Would you consider that as a turning point? You came up with two or three brilliant returns and crosscourt. What would you term that moment? You're playing against such an opponent who had all the momentum going for her, and then suddenly it was a great comeback.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, very big comeback. You know, with a strong opponent like her, it's never easy to come back with this score. I was not afraid of hitting the ball. I tried. I risk it a little bit.

Those down-the-line backhands and also short crosscourt were amazing and gave me extra power that I am still there and I have enough power to fight for the match.

So that's why. That makes me stronger. And also, my legs. I felt really strong on the legs. And I said that I can run however it takes just to come back and to win the match.

Q. You were asked this question many times last year after you won the French Open, whether that sort of lifted the pressure, took the pressure off you and enabled you to play freely. Are you experiencing some of that now, given that the season is over, you have had time to rest, you come back? Are you playing with the freedom that you have probably never played with before?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I play with freedom, because my pressure is off now. I have won a Grand Slam. I have been No. 1 in the world. My goals are real now.

I just try to enjoy more the time, which I do, and I feel much better. I'm more relaxed. I'm not thinking about the result. I'm thinking just that I want to win the match I play. So that makes me a little bit relieved, I can say, yeah.

Q. You talk about problem-solving. What has made her game so difficult for you to figure out in the past, do you think?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't really know. Maybe the consistency, because she doesn't miss. And she's running a lot. She's strong. She's a top-10 player, top-5 player. It's always tough to play against these players.

But probably mentally, also, because of those matches that I didn't play my best. Mentally I had a letdown sometimes. But now I forced myself to stay there and to fight.

Q. And just your thoughts on Mertens or Kerber? Thoughts on the final?
SIMONA HALEP: It's the last match of the tournament, so it's gonna be a tough one, but I don't feel pressure. I just want to be ready, because if I play against Kerber, it's going to be three-hours' match, like always (smiling).

With Mertens I've played many times and was shorter, but you never know. Every match is different, so we will see.

Q. How much does it help to have the crowd on your side, especially when you're losing a set? And you always say you feel like you're playing home here in Qatar. How much does it help, the support?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I feel that every time. You can see that many people are supporting me. It's a big thing, because I receive the energy from them. And it's like they don't let me give up. They just keep me there focused, and they send me their desire to see me, the winner of the match. So I take that like a positive thing, and it gives me more power to fight.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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