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An Interview With: Simona Halep

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Q. How would you describe your hard court leadup? Were you happy with it? Were you not happy with it?

SIMONA HALEP: Hard court?

Q. Yeah, like through Cincinnati and New Haven.

SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, the court here I like very much because it's like my style. I play very fast. I like to take the balls very early and to stay very close to the baseline. So I feel good. I had many practices here. I feel the ball. I'm pretty confident in myself that I can play good tennis.

Q. For people who want to train like a professional tennis player, what are a couple of your favorite exercises to do in the gym? And then what are a couple where you go, Oh, my God, this is terrible?

SIMONA HALEP: I don't like to make for my abdominal exercises. I hate (smiling). I like to do some exercises for my biceps because I like and it's easy for me. And on court I like to run, one and one, one on forehand and one on backhand, and to finish with a drive. I don't like to stay to play crosses many times.

Q. Do you think you have had enough matches before the Open?

SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I think yes. Like I said, I'm confident. I have confidence in myself and in my game also. I played tough matches in Cincinnati, so I feel prepared to start the tournament here. We will see. Every time first round is difficult at any tournament, so I have to be focused to try my best during the match and to fight to win the match. But we'll see. You never know.

Q. Obviously a professional player expects to eventually go to the top of their rankings. Are you surprised you moved up so quickly in one year?

SIMONA HALEP: A little bit, yes (smiling). Last year I didn't expect that I can get in top 10 this year, but it was my dream to be in top 20. Now I'm second in the rankings, so it's an amazing feeling for me. I'm not very surprised because I had good matches in the past also with top players. I beat them, and then I got more confidence in myself. My game, it starts to be -- I improved more in my game. In my serve also. With my forehand I hit stronger than before. So it's I think I deserve to be here because I won few titles and also important matches. I did finals in Grand Slam. So I just want to keep this work going and to see how far and how good I can be, how better I can be in the future.

Q. Last year you played a lot of matches on smaller courts and got up to Armstrong. Have you had an opportunity to practice on Ashe and looking forward to playing there?

SIMONA HALEP: Yes, this year I had the chance to practice in Arthur Ashe, and it's huge. It's very big. It's good to have this experience. Maybe I will play a match maybe first round or I don't know. I have experience everywhere now to play, so I feel prepared for everything. I have just to do my game on court, because I think that's the most important thing. Doesn't matter the court where are you playing. Just to play your best.

Q. Switching gears, I know you come from a Romanian orthodox religious background. Do you travel with an icon?

SIMONA HALEP: Yes. I travel, yeah.

Q. Is that an important part of your life, I guess, off the court and on the court?

SIMONA HALEP: Yes. It's important thing for me in my life. I believe in God, and, you know, I don't go to the church every week or something like this because I don't have and it's not my style. But I believe in Him, and I just have some things with me and I believe in them.

Q. A lot of players talk about kind of the unique atmosphere...

SIMONA HALEP: About what?

Q. In New York the fans kind of are very loud and it's very busy. For you, is that something you enjoy? Are you kind of looking forward to playing in front of, you know, that kind of environment? How do you feel kind of about that?

SIMONA HALEP: I think it's a very nice thing to play in front of thousand people watching you. For me it doesn't matter if they are loud up there, because when I'm on court I'm very focused, so I don't care about that they are screaming sometimes or during the points. It's normal. Everyone can do everything they want. Every people is free to do. But sometimes like a player, you need some quiet during the points. But, you know, every player it's different, so for me that doesn't matter. No problem at all.

Q. If you don't hear the crowd, can you feed off their energy in some way? Like when you won in Bucharest and had the entire stadium cheering for you the whole way through, is it something that you hear at all or feel or...

SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I felt amazing there. Everyone was with me, close to me. It was the best feeling. I think everyone was supporting me. They came special for me for my matches and to see me playing. I take energy from them. So always I like to have a lot of people close to me in the crowd.

Q. What would be a successful US Open for you? What would be a good result for you?

SIMONA HALEP: Quarterfinals, to have the badge for all life (smiling). I don't know. When you start a tournament you think only about the first match, because every time it's the most difficult match. I want to take match by match and see how far can I go. I believe in my chance and I think that I can do a good result, but still, I want just to be focused for the first round.

Q. Have you had a chance to go shopping while you have been in New York?

SIMONA HALEP: Yes (smiling).

Q. Can you tell us what you bought?

SIMONA HALEP: No.

Q. Why?

SIMONA HALEP: I bought a handbag, but I don't say the brand.

Q. Did people recognize you?

SIMONA HALEP: Policeman. He told me, you are Simona Halep, no? Yes, I am. Only one.

Q. Most of the top tennis players who are also here have very strong social media presence, like Twitter, Facebook. You don't seem to have a Twitter account.

SIMONA HALEP: I don't yet. I did my Facebook two weeks ago, so I want to enjoy the Facebook first. Then I will do the Twitter after this tournament.

Q. You said you enjoy looking for quiet time between points --

SIMONA HALEP: During the points.

Q. Yes, but between matches or when you're not practicing, when you're not playing, what quiet spaces do you like?

SIMONA HALEP: Players lounge. Also the locker room. It's pretty quiet there. Most of the time I go to the hotel to rest.

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