Simona Halep (Constanza, Romania; 1991) is the two-time Mutua Madrid Open champion. In 2018, she climbed up to the World No. 1 and the Romanian comes back to la Caja Mágica ready to keep her trophy. Halep had a chat with The Magazine before the tournament and shared her memories.
You are the player who has played the most finals in Madrid and might be the first to link 3 consecutive titles. Why is the Mutua Madrid Open so good for you?
I like the center court and the conditions. The ambiance too and of course i m very motivated.
How important is Ion Tiriac in your career? Is it special to win a trophy with his name?
He is very special for me as i have a lot of respect for him and his advice is important and always a good one! Of course my desire to win a trophy with his name, is stronger.
The Caja Mágica is one of the most modern facilities in the world of tennis. What makes the Caja different?
It s just different! Having the roofs is a big plus as if it rains, you do not wait around. I also like the whole ambience here.
Your most special memory in the Caja Mágica.
Winning the trophy, each time was a huge emotion.
What changes playing on altitude? You clearly benefit from it… how do you take advantage of this factor?
I do not think about it too much ..but i always come to practice here about 5 days in advance.You have to get used to controlling the ball in this altitude.
Since 2017 there have been 10 changes on the No. 1 in the WTA Ranking, is the circuit more open than ever?
Yes maybe. Of course with Serena and Azarenka out, there has been more of an opening, but still the competition has been very though and the level of tennis very high.
You are the shortest No. 1 since 1980 (Tracy Austin), how have you been able to adapt your game to be the best player in the world in a circuit where the power and size of players like Serena, Garbiñe, Pliskova, Azarenka is imposed?
Well… shorter players can be faster.. so i take advantage of my qualities as i m fast and i have a good eye to return the big serve. I also had to become more aggressive and put pressure first.
What would you highlight about your tennis? What is your favorite stroke?
My favorite stroke is my backhand down the line winner. But i m enjoying more and more my counter drops shots.
You have a great relationship with your coach Darren Cahill. What has he brought since you work together? And the most valuable advice he has given?
Darren is great and i have so much respect for him! Sometimes i can t control my stress and i show too much negativity on the court…which he hates. So he made me work on my attitude a lot. Also he made me be much more aggressive on all my shots and improved my serve.
What do you like to do when you are in Madrid? Do you have time to visit iconic places?
I certainly would like to visit more , but unfortunately for as long as i m in the tournament, there is not much time for visiting.
If you could create the perfect player … Which drive would you choose? And backhand? Serve? Volley?
There are lots of players with great strokes and very complete.
What super power would you choose?