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Halep: Aiming for Year-End No. 1

Simona Halep's quest to regain the world No. 1 ranking was denied by Kiki Bertens in the Madrid final on Saturday.

Had the Roland Garros champion won Madrid she would have surpassed Naomi Osaka and returned to the top spot.

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The second-ranked Romanian arrived in Rome 239 points behind the Australian Open champion.

Halep said her ultimate goal is the year-end No. 1 ranking, a spot she held in 2017 and 2018.

"About No. 1 in the world, if I will get there, I want to be in the end of the year, not now," Halep told the media in Rome. "So for me doesn't matter in this moment. I just want to win matches."

The 27-year-old Halep is defending 2,585 points from her 2018 Rome final and 2018 Roland Garros title

"I don't want to think about that, to be honest," Halep said. "I have many (points to defend), but I covered few of them last week. Is not about defending the points, it's about winning matches and being close to the last days of the tournaments."


Ciao #foroitalico ❤️

A post shared by Simona Halep (@simonahalep) on

Reflecting on her evolution as a player, Halep said the work she did with former coach Darren Cahill improved her transition game, sharpened her serve and infused her with the skills to play more aggressive tennis than she did reaching her first major final at the 2014 French Open.

"I think I improved also in my A game, which was defensive game back then," Halep said. "I feel like I improved being more aggressive. This is because of Darren (Cahill). He taught me how to make the transfer from defensive to the offensive play. Also serve I think I improved.

"If I can analyze my game, I think I have Plan A and Plan B. But depends of my energy and my mood if I can put the Plan B, which is more aggressive. I'm trying to improve more and more because now the players know me.

"After so many years there, I have to come with something better. I'm working hard every day. Hopefully I can change other things that I want and I have in my mind. I'm not going to tell you because it's a secret (smiling)."

Photo credit: Mark Peterson