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May 24, 2019

Simona Halep

Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How is it being back and what do you think of the new look to Roland Garros?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's great to be back, and I'm happy. I'm healthy, and everything is fine.

I don't like this, to hear my voice (laughter).

Well, yeah, I'm happy to be back here, and I'm trying to enjoy, because it's a beautiful tournament and very special for me.

Everything looks much better, and the court is really, really beautiful. I haven't seen the Simonne Mathieu Court yet, but I practiced today there, so I can't wait to go there.

Q. How have the practices been since you have been here? How are you feeling just physically, and I guess the biggest question is mentally coming in as the defending champion?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I feel good. I have practiced a lot, let's say, and with many players. I feel good. I feel the ball. I like the courts. Always I liked the courts here. I had the chance to practice on Chatrier a few times, and I really enjoyed the practices there.

Mentally, I am pretty relaxed. I know it's a little bit of pressure there, because I'm a defending champion, but it's first time when it happens.

So I just want to take the positive and to be in this position I think is the best thing. So I won't complain about it. I just try to play every match here, and I try to get ready as much as possible until I have to start.

Q. How is the pressure different as a defending champion, to trying to win a slam? Is it easier, better to cope with?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, much better and much easier, because I have the title already. Doesn't matter anymore what is going to happen.

Everything comes now comes as a bonus. So I will try just to give my best and to see if I'm able to do it again.

Q. Kiki Bertens has so far a good clay court season. What is your opinion about her development, her growth?
SIMONA HALEP: I think she improved a lot in the last two, three years. She's a very strong opponent mentally, also physically. She's maybe at the highest level. I think she has a good chance for this tournament, and I played against her in Madrid, so I felt that she's very strong.

Q. Just wondering to get your thoughts on your first round against Tomljanovic. I think you played...
SIMONA HALEP: Cincinnati, I think.

Q. What are you expecting from her?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's going to be different because it's clay court, so the things are changing. But still it's going to be a very tough match. She's powerful. She hits the ball strong.

So I have to be ready. I have to focus on myself, as I always say, and I always think on court, and if I am able to do my game, I think I have a good chance to win.

Q. After winning here last year, are you at all concerned that you might be too happy to play your best tennis again?
SIMONA HALEP: Probably (smiling). I am too happy to be in this position, I have to admit this. But is nothing bad.

So I will try to do the things as a kid, enjoying the time. I wanted this badly, and I wanted so much that now having it, I just want to be happy and to smile.

Yesterday when I had the chance to touch the trophy again, I wanted to take it home, but I was not able to do that.

I had the picture, which is the best moment for me.

Q. Has that been a challenge, kind of keeping the motivation? Because you fought so hard to get that first Grand Slam title.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I fought hard, and I had many tough moments lifting that, before lifting that trophy, but I'm still motivated because my career doesn't stay in a Grand Slam or ranking. I play tennis because I love playing tennis, and I'm here because I love the life of an athlete. I like to make friends. I like to spend the time with people, and now I see the things different. So I discover different life on tour.

Q. You mentioned that you had practiced with a bunch of players in the lead-up this week. Which players?
SIMONA HALEP: I will tell you about only one, Kristina Pliskova -- Karolina Pliskova. Karolina Pliskova, because we practice every tournament together (smiling). And today I have with another one, tomorrow another one, yeah.

Q. Last year before this tournament, you said that the field was open, 15 players could win it last year. This year, 12 months on, do you feel that it's as open as you felt it was last year, or do you feel as though there is a smaller group this year that are the favorites or who can win the title?
SIMONA HALEP: I would say probably 10 now, because a few of them are very strong, and they had a good season on clay, like Pliskova, like Bertens. They are playing really well. They have a big chance.

But I think in top 10, any of us, I can include myself, we can win. So we will see.

Q. How would you classify your clay court season as a whole?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I played so well in Fed Cup. I really felt the game, and I was really confident after that tie. Also disappointed that we couldn't win the match, but still gave me a lot of confidence.

And then going to Madrid where is maybe my favorite tournament, because I won two times there, and I played two finals, even if I didn't win the final, I felt that my level is very high.

I have confidence. I don't count Rome this year. We leave it back (smiling). Coming here, practicing, I felt really well. So I feel good, but you never know in tennis. So I will take day by day.

Q. You mentioned practicing a lot with Karolina. She obviously won Rome. Over the years she's improved a lot on clay. What do you think has been kind of the biggest difference for her on that surface, playing her?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I think she plays really well on all surfaces, and you cannot find any difference because she serves very well, and on clay here actually, and also in Rome, the ball goes faster. The clay is not that soft, so it helps her.

I think she moves better on clay, and if you have confidence, you can win anything. So I think she has a good level of confidence right now.

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