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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday September 22, 2020


Simona Halep may not have many matches under her belt in 2020, but the ones she is playing, she is winning.

The Romanian will head to Roland Garros carrying a 14-match winning streak and all the confidence that comes with winning her first title in Rome.

Tennis Express

Thanks to that title, sealed on Monday with a 6-0, 2-1 RET victory over Karolina Pliskova, the 2018 Roland Garros champion has taken the pole position as the favorite in Paris. Of course there is pressure that comes with being the clay alpha dog, but the 28-year-old is not feeling overwhelmed by the expectations that come with her elevated status.

"Well, it's just another tournament, I'm not going to put pressure on myself,” she said of Roland Garros, which will commence main draw action on her 29th birthday, on September 27th. “I played really well this year, I have three titles already, I played so much on clay. I feel confident, I feel happy that I will have a chance to play another Grand Slam this year.”

Confidence and pressure go hand in hand on tour, but Halep has had just as much experience dealing with other people’s expectations for her as she has had dealing with opponents that strive to take her down. Neither is impacting her bubbly persona very much at the moment.

“I will just try to be happy, to take the positives from this tournament and to go there smiling,” she said on Monday.


Halep’s victory in Rome ended in a bittersweet manner, as Pliskova was forced to retire with a thigh injury after winning just one of the first nine games.

Halep, who told reporters she has been dreaming of winning the title in Rome for a long time, says that she won’t let the fact the Pliskova was forced to retire take any of the joy from holding the trophy.

"It's not the end of the tournament that we wished for,” she said. “But I felt amazing in the first set and I was very confident that even if we kept playing I had a chance to win the match. So I don't take negatives from that, of course it's bad for her, I feel sorry because an injury is an injury and it's never easy. But no, doesn't change anything. This trophy, it's mine now."

Halep credits the work she did during the sports’ hiatus for helping her have success on the clay since the tennis restart. She made the decision to skip the US Open and has no regrets. She told reporters on Monday that she believes her body is fresher than it normally is going into a Grand Slam—that’s another big plus for her confidence.

"It is true that I'm fresher, of course I did work hard at home, but I didn't have matches, many matches, so my body is not that used,” she said. “So it's a plus in my opinion that I feel fresh and with these matches here I feel also confident, so it's a better chance."

Not to harp on Halep’s favorite status at Roland Garros, but it was interesting to listen to Pliskova, a menacing force on the clay herself, break down the scenario herself.

"Of course I think she's going to be the [biggest] favorite from the women's tournament because I think the way she played... she played already Prague on clay, she won this tournament so I feel like she's confident, now she won two tournaments on clay, so I think she's confident enough and she's done well there,” she said. “For sure she's going to be dangerous. I know the weather is not looking that great in Paris so I think the conditions just to like play an aggressive game against her is going to be quite tough. And she had big success in Paris so I think she's going to be one of my favorites to go for the title."

Halep, for her part, isn’t all that concerned about any of this. She was more interested in spending some quality time with her newest trophy after the final.

"We are in a bubble so I'm going to enjoy with my trophy in the room,” she said. “So I'm going to drink a little bit of champagne from it and that's it."

 

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