“Mentally stronger” Halep hopes for better year on WTA tour

“Mentally stronger” Halep hopes for better year on WTA tour
Simona Halep is hoping to win her first Major title this year. Photo: AFP

“Mentally stronger” Halep hopes for better year on WTA tour

Hampered by injury fears in the past, world No 5 says she has become a stronger and more positive player

STUTTGART – By her own admission, Simona Halep hasn’t had the best of starts to 2017.

The furthest the Romanian ace has progressed this year is to the quarter-finals in Miami and St. Petersburg, which means that she hasn’t won a title since the Rogers Cup last July.

However, Halep is remaining calm and believes she has added to the mental side of her game this year, which she hopes will help her achieve more consistency in her game, as she seeks her first ever Grand Slam title.

“I think I’ve improved as a player and also as a person,” she said to assembled media from Singapore on the sidelines of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Tuesday (Apr 25).

“I’ve been working hard on the mental part, it’s a big challenge.

“This year, I didn’t start that well but still I have confidence that I can achieve some good results this year.

“I am not panicking (as I used to)… I think I’m more positive now. Before, I was maybe a little too negative, maybe because of the injuries (that have plagued me) as well.

“I’d get a little bit scared and would panic, but now I’m just trying to be positive, even if I lose some matches.”

Halep is also hoping that her new-found mental strength will stand her in good stead against an ever-improving field, with the 25-year-old acknowledging that the next generation of players – featuring the likes of Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina - are coming on strong.

“They work hard and play good tennis,” said the world no. 5.

“I’m working as well and I try to give my best every time but sometimes you feel tired, get injured, and you can’t be consistent.

“But I’m doing the best I can, and of course I’m dreaming big, but also the players from the top 10 are very strong.”

Halep acknowledged that upcoming tournaments would be more “open” due to the absence of Serena Williams, who has been the dominant force in women’s tennis but will take a break due to her pregnancy.

But the Constanta native added that Williams’ absence does not necessarily signify an easier path to winning Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) titles.

“I haven (had) tough matches with other players and lost to other players as well,” she said. “I just need to focus on myself, on my job, and to do my best every day I step on the court.

“It doesn’t matter who is playing on the tournament, I just need to go there and have confidence and (I will) have my chance.

“She (Williams) is in her happiest moment in her life and I think she has to enjoy it.

“I think tennis will miss Serena, because she’s a great champion and always when she plays, the crowd is full, packed.”

Another player who can draw the crowds is Maria Sharapova, whose wildcard entry back to competitive action after a 15-month doping ban at the Porsche Grand Prix tournament has divided the tennis community.

Halep has previously voiced her opposition to the five-time Grand Slam champion’s manner of return and she reiterated her stance that it is not a good move.

“I have said that I don’t care about this, if she gets a wildcard or not; it doesn’t bother me,” she said.

“It’s just that I don’t see it as a positive thing.

“I know that she’s paid for what she’s done, but still, you cannot promote a player, who was banned for doping, by giving her a wildcard.

“The people who are doing the tournament… they know what they do. I cannot support, I cannot defend (it), it’s their choice.

“But in my opinion, it’s not that positive (an example) for the young players.”