Halep ready to roll in Stuttgart


By Ros Satar, in Stuttgart

  • Feels ready after injury scare at Fed Cup
  • No expectations for her clay court season
  • Talks Olympics – and wants to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremony

STUTTGART, GERMANY – Fourth seed Simona Halep completed the all-access line-up in Stuttgart ready to roll.

A home Fed Cup tie in Romania brings a number of pressures on the Romanian No. 1, further complicated when she rolled her ankle in the first match, against Andrea Petkovic.

She said to the press, in her pre-tournament press conference: “I played good matches even if the second one was short, I was a bit scared of my injury and I couldn’t run like I do always but first match was pretty tough. Petkovic played really well and it was a good challenge for me to win the match. I tried everything, I was fighting for every ball and that means a lot for me. I’m back, I feel strong, I feel ok mentally, physically as well, I’m ready to play tournaments and matches.

“Actually it was good week in Romania, even if all the pressure was on me cause I had to win 2 matches — like I heard many times there. But you cannot say that for sure you have to win two matches cause for sure I have good opponents, tough opponents. One won a grand slam this year, so was tough to play against her cause she has confidence but was a good week. I took it like a positive week.”

Ever since her rise to the higher order of the rankings, with a breakout year of six tournament wins on every surface in 2013, backed up with a run to the French Open final and the WTA Finals in 2014, there have been high expectations on the diminutive Romanian.

Although she grew up on hard courts, and feels it suits her better, she has better stats for her performances on clay, and for a determined scamperer where running plays a huge part in her game, she is under no illusions of the coming challenges now we are into the European clay court swing.

“I started to play tennis on hard court – in Constanta, hard court is my favourite but also clay court is good for me, I like it and I did my biggest result there, so it’s good for me.

“I’m excited always, I can’t wait to start the clay season, I know it’s more difficult to play — you have to run more, you have to work more for the points but it’s a nice feeling, It’s always nice to play on red courts, I like the red clay and yeah, it’s exciting always when we start every season.”

Halep reached the semi-final last year, but was unable to repeat her much anticipated return to Roland Garros. This year, she is just going to take things as they come.

“After last year, no expectations. I just want to work hard every day to get better and to see if I can do something like big result. I just believe that I can do some result, but nothing more.”

With the Olympics and two finals in the US swing to defend, it will be important for Halep to stay in one piece, although she is looking forward to teaming up with Horia Tecau once more, as a prospect for the Mixed Doubles.

“We had a lot of fun, we played well, actually we won a few good matches but then I gave up because it was very tough for me to continue after [Sabine] Lisicki’s match, it was tough. I thought he got upset, but he didn’t so it’d good, and we can play now again.”

Halep starts her campaign on Thursday against German qualifier Laura Siegemund and play starts at 12pm (11am BST).