October 2, 2020
S. HALEP/A. Anisimova
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You said that you needed to change your game when you played next. What were you particularly proud of today?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, the fact that I have been more aggressive. I took the game in my hands. Last year I was very far from the court, and I played fairly short so she could play her game. When she has time and she has the ball in the right position, she is very, very dangerous and she plays great.
So today I think I did a great job changing a little bit the tactic.
Q. Can you talk a bit about the second game of the match? There were five breakpoints. You saved them all. You made all your first serves. You played some brilliant tennis in those moments. Would you say, very early in the match, was that an important turning point for you in a sense?
SIMONA HALEP: Definitely. It's been very important, because the 1-All is not the same like 2-0. So I knew it's really important to hold my serve at the beginning, because as I said, she's very difficult opponent and she's very strong with the shots. So was really important to stay there for every ball and to not leaving any moment away from my game.
Q. Do you think Amanda, as happens with many young players, they may have a very good first season but then in the second year when people get to know how they play, it's easier to play them?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah, with every player is the same. If you play before, you know what to expect the next time. So is not just her. But definitely she's very young, so she has so many years ahead.
Probably she feels a bit of pressure. I don't know. But she's a great player, and she will be in the top very soon.
Q. I heard you say recently that it was the longest time of your life when you didn't touch any racquets and you didn't play.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah.
Q. I was wondering after not playing for so long, maybe you realize how much you maybe love tennis and practicing like every day, maybe like a new motivation almost?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, pandemic actually showed me how much I love tennis and how much I want to get back on tour and to play tournaments.
I restarted myself. I was very fresh after the pandemic, because I stayed so much time home and I could just rest a lot.
I enjoy a lot being back, and to be in this period, when actually was my birthday few days ago, to be in Paris, my favorite city, it is very nice. So I try to give my best, I try to enjoy maximum, and just being here it's enough for me.
Q. I'd like to know if you feel the pressure a little bit like Rafa Nadal, everybody since the beginning of the tournament, Oh, he won it 12 times and must win 13th, even if there is Djokovic and Thiem. You, now that you're No. 1, Williams is out, Pliskova is out, so some of the top players are out. Do you feel more responsibility than usual?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I don't, and I don't feel the pressure. Of course I expect from myself to play good tennis, because I feel good, I feel the game, I feel fit, I feel stronger on my body. But doesn't mean I have to win every match.
Important thing for me is just to deliver what I have best in the day that I play, and then we'll see. I'm not thinking about the result. I just want to try to take my chance every time I step on the court, and I'm not thinking about title. It's very far, and many players are playing really well in the draw. So no expectations about that.
Q. I remember after Wimbledon last year you said that your defeat to Amanda at Roland Garros was kind of a big motivating factor to be better at Wimbledon, gave you a bit of a shakeup maybe. I just wonder how important was that defeat last year and sort of what has happened since?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah. Every defeat is important in my opinion, because if you realize what you did wrong, you can get better.
So in my opinion, I got better after that match from last year. I was very disappointed, and if I remember really well because of the way I played; not because I lost the match. Because she was really, really strong at that time, but I let her play her best.
So in my mind was what I have to do better to get better in the direction of my game. So improved a lot, and definitely I am much better in many ways since last year.
Q. Now that you had the experience of playing the French at this time of the year and obviously in May-June, which one do you prefer?
SIMONA HALEP: Both of them (smiling). Maybe if it's possible to have one in May and one in September would be great (smiling).
Q. Today is World Smile Day, and you told us a few years ago that at the start of your career you were very self-critical and then you made the decision to be more happy, more positive, and smile more. So my question for you for World Smile Day is: Are you smiling more now because you keep winning, or are you winning now more because you keep smiling more?
SIMONA HALEP: The second version. I'm winning more because I'm smiling more (smiling).
So, yeah, as I said few days ago, my life doesn't depend of a tennis match anymore. Yeah, anymore. I'm just enjoying, and I'm happy out of the court. So probably it is a good reason to play well on court.
Q. Just to come back to the top players and seeds going out, why do you think that is? What does it say about women's tennis, a lot of the seeds going out and a lot of unknown players going so far in the tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, as I said already for a few years, tennis and women is a little bit open, more open than we think. So any player can win any match. The level is very high and is very close.
The mental part plays a big part at the highest level, so the tennis is almost the same. Everyone is working hard. Everyone is playing a lot. Everyone has a desire to be better and to win matches.
So the level is pretty, pretty hard and pretty good in all the ways. So I think the mental part is very important in these days, and probably some players are tired. Some players are not finding their rhythm after pandemic and it happens to lose. Is not a big drama in my opinion.
Q. You mentioned just now that your happiness doesn't depend on tennis anymore. I wonder, when did that change and why did it change? Was it something that you wanted to change, or did it just come with winning a Grand Slam, for example?
SIMONA HALEP: Actually, yeah, I worked on this before, and I worked to not putting everything I have in the tennis, like all the life that I'm doing and I'm living.
But pandemic helped me a lot to change this inside myself, and I became very relaxed. I saw that the bigger problems are in normal life, not in our sport. So we have the privilege to play these beautiful and great tournaments.
So I relaxed it in some way. I don't really know how to explain. I don't know how it's gonna stay like this. Now I have a good form and I'm feeling very confident. Might be changed in next year, only few months, but for the moment I have learned also to live in the present, so I enjoy the time and I have learned so many things from pandemic which I want to keep them.
Q. Last year after you won your second Grand Slam at Wimbledon, you talked a little bit about focusing your energy on winning international titles, the Olympics, Fed Cup, playing for Romania. I'm just curious to know how you got your hunger and desire back so quickly here in Paris to go after another Grand Slam. Has it been challenging for you, or is it just the way things worked out with the pandemic and you spending a lot of time on clay and then playing exceptionally well?
SIMONA HALEP: Exactly, yeah. I think the time I spent home and I was able to practice only on clay for few months, five, six months already, I just feel confident. It's nothing like a secret or a big key. It's just a confidence. Is just a way that I feel. I feel relaxed, and I feel fit.
So if I feel fit on my body and my legs are strong, I can play good tennis.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports