In 2016 she won the championship after one of the best weeks of her career. Simona Halep (Constanta, Romania; 1991) beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-4 in the final of the year’s third Premier Mandatory to add her name to the tournament’s prestigious roll of honour.
Before her return in 2017, dreaming of a brace that only Petra Kvitova (2011 and 2015) and Serena Williams (2012-2013) can boast, Halep spoke of the importance of the Mutua Madrid Open in her career, handling pressure, the atmosphere at the tournament and the current health of Spanish tennis, with Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez aspiring to make big moves.
The Mutua Madrid Open played a pivotal role in your career. What do you feel when you play at the Caja Mágica?
The Madrid tournament is indeed very special for me. I enjoy playing in this atmosphere and I am looking forward to defending my title.
Do you feel extra pressure this time being the Mutua Madrid Open’s reigning champion?
I felt pressure in the past, but now I hope to arrive in Madrid confident and well prepared enough to be able to overcome any emotions.
Nobody has reached three finals in Madrid. Are you ready to do it?
I hope so, it would be great for me, but the competition is going to be hard.
What’s your favourite place in Madrid?
I don’t have a favourite place, but I think Madrid is a beautiful city.
Do you know any expressions in Spanish?
I don’t think I’m very talented at languages but I know how to say ‘Hola, ¿cómo estás?’.
How would you describe the atmosphere in Madrid?
It is very good, the weather is generally good too. The people love watching tennis and seeing the big stars.
In your opinion, who are the best clay-court players?
Garbiñe Muguruza, Carla Suárez and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Spanish tennis is going through a lush spell with Muguruza and Suárez. What do you think of them?
Indeed, Spain has a Roland Garros winner with Garbiñe for the first time since the great era of Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. She and Carla have the potential to keep improving and winning more tournaments.