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Halep: I Feel Stronger

Standing 5-foot-6, Simona Halep is one of the more petite players in the Top 20.

The fourth-ranked Romanian believes she's grown stronger during the last year.

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"I feel better and I feel stronger, also mentally and physically," Halep told the media in Rome. "The game, I don't know if I changed much, but definitely I see different a little bit the game, and I'm watching more the opponent now.

"Not much has changed, but still, I feel different and I feel I'm older one year, so has to be something different."

Halep swept Stuttgart champion Laura Siegemund, 6-4, 6-4, to set up a Rome round of 16 clash with 12th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

It was Halep's seventh straight win coming days after she defeated Kristina Mladenovic to capture her second straight Madrid championship. 

Last year, Halep did not build on her Madrid momentum, losing to Daria Gavrilova in her 2016 Rome opener then bowing to Samantha Stosur in the Roland Garros round of 16.  

The 2014 French Open finalist has failed to survive the second round in five of seven career appearances in Paris, but Halep says she will not fall victim to complancency this time.

"I feel much better than last year, because I was in the same situation and last year I was too happy, let's say, and I was down with the energy for playing again, but now is different," Halep said. "I feel different."

Oddsmakers concur: Halep is the bookmakers favorite to capture her first Grand Slam title in Paris ahead of Garbine Muguruza and world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, who was bounced out of Rome today.

Photo credit: Christopher Levy