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By Chris Oddo | Thursday, June 18, 2015

Simona Halep, Birmingham 2015

Simona Halep says she's determined not to let the pressure and expectations bother her during the grass court season. So far so good in Birmingham.

Photo Source: Aegon Classic

Simona Halep got a longer than expected rest after being knocked out of Roland Garros in the second round, and the Romanian says she has used the time wisely to reset her mind and get some much-needed relaxation.

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It’s paying off on the Birmingham grass, as the Romanian moved past Klara Koukalova, 6-1, 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals where she’ll face Kristina Mladenovic on Friday.

“I have no expectation from me this grass season, so I just want to go on court and play what I know,” said Halep. “On clay I had pressure and I couldn't handle it. I played bad and I couldn't feel like relaxed on court. So that was the bad thing. So I just took some days off home and I said that I have to relax my mind and just going on court to play.”

Halep, who reached the Wimbledon semis during a banner 2014, is showing once again that she has no problem getting her legs beneath her on grass. She’s taken all four sets she’s played at Birmingham and looked very solid in each.

“I think I started to feel the grass pretty good, so I have confidence in my game now and in myself as well,” she said.

Halep made 79 percent of her first serves, and won 27 of 34 of those points to keep Koukalova off balance for most of their 50-minute encounter. The Romanian improved to 2-1 vs. the 33-year-old Czech with the victory.

In other action at Birmingham on Thursday, third-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro took out Svetlana Kuznetsova while eighth-seeded Sabine Lisicki edged Magdalena Rybarikova in two tight sets.

Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber saw off 15th-seeded Jelena Jankovic in straight sets, while 19-year-old Czech Katerina Siniakova backed up her upset of Andrea Petkovic on Tuesday with a win over Christina McHale.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova was a two-time winner, as she finished up her second-round match over Great Britain’s Johanna Konta before moving on to reach the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Zarina Diyas.


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