May 2, 2021
S. HALEP/S. Zheng
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You've put together back-to-back wins now in Madrid. You have only lost nine games in those two matches. Are you pleased with the direction your game is going on clay this week?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I'm very pleased, and actually I was confident when I arrived here because I always played well. But I had a long break after actually Australia. Even if I played that match in Miami, was not enough. So I was struggling a little bit with official matches.
I was stressed before the matches, but now I feel better. I'm getting better mentally. I can say I started to enjoy more, and I don't feel those negative nerves anymore. So I'm in a good place now.
Q. Is Darren giving you good feedback and encouragement after each match?
SIMONA HALEP: Who?
Q. Your coach, Darren Cahill.
SIMONA HALEP: Darren, yeah, he was very positive. Also first round, also now after this match. He likes how I play. Just few easy mistakes. But normally he said I don't do those mistakes, so I need more matches. Then I will be better.
Q. In the second set, as she started to come back a little bit, what were you telling yourself that you needed to do to close that match out?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, to stay focused, because I knew from the previous match that I have to just stay there and to stop missing, because she changed the rhythm. She changed the tactic.
I lost a little bit the timing on the ball. Those high balls were really tough to get, like, to do something with them. Then I started to miss with the forehand a little bit too much.
I just said I have to calm down and just to play a little bit like an extra shot inside the court.
Q. I know you have played her before, but were you prepared for what she was trying to do tactically today? She was really kind of throwing everything at you and trying to play a little bit differently than maybe a very straightforward game.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I knew that she's changing the rhythm. She can play very good slice. Also the high ball. So I knew how she's playing, and I actually expected like it was today, and I'm happy that I could stay together there.
Q. You touched on this before, but it seems like you're swinging so freely, not just here in Madrid but even in Stuttgart those first few matches. Feels like everything is flowing and clicking. Is that how you're feeling right now at this point in the season? Maybe it was a little bit stickier, I guess, on the hard courts in the start of the season but now it seems like you're flowing.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I'm flowing because I'm on clay court. Always I feel much better. I feel very natural on clay.
But also, the break gave me a little bit of, you know, I'm hungry of matches, because I didn't play for long time, and now being here, being able, being with pain-free, it's really nice. I feel happy that I can play close to my best tennis without pain. That makes me very happy.
Q. You'll get to kick up your feet a little bit as your opponents are battling it out as we speak, but can you just talk about the difficulties and challenges of playing Mertens and Rybakina?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, we played against each other with Mertens a few times, so I kind of know what she's playing. I know that it's difficult because she's all the time going inside the court and she stays at the baseline and likes to hit all the balls. It's gonna be tough.
And against Rybakina, we only played in the Dubai final which I don't really want to remember that well, because it was a long match. It was really tough after that.
But I'm confident. It will be another match another day, so I will have my chance. I will fight for it.
Q. I just wanted to ask you, you're having the opportunity to play your matches in front of fans in Madrid this week, and I wanted to find out from you how important it is to be able to play with the crowd, and especially, you know, to have a crowd to celebrate your victories with.
SIMONA HALEP: It's very important for everybody, I think, not just for me, to feel the energy, to feel the people. The atmosphere was really good even if it's not packed. We have many fans, and it's really nice. I miss them so much.
So hopefully after this week we have confidence that it's gonna be back to normal soon. You know, I really liked always playing with the fans and having their support, because everywhere I go, I feel like they share with me the positive thoughts and they are supporting me. So it's always a nice feeling to have crowd.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports