Unfamiliar, but nice: Halep back in Paris to defend title

Defending champion Romania's Simona Halep smiles as she poses next to the cup during the draw of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The French Open tennis tournament starts Sunday May 26. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Simona Halep is experiencing something new at the French Open this year, coming to Paris as the defending champion

PARIS — Simona Halep is experiencing something new at the French Open this year.

The Romanian player is back in Paris to defend her title, a situation she's never been in before.

And she likes it.

"Much better and much easier, because I have the title already," Halep said Friday at Roland Garros. "Doesn't matter anymore what is going to happen. Everything now comes as a bonus. So I will try just to give my best and to see if I'm able to do it again."

Halep, the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam title after Virginia Ruzici in 1978, won the French Open last year by rallying past Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the final. She had previously lost three Grand Slams finals, including two on the French clay.

Before her win, the former top-ranked player often had the unpleasant tendency to crumble on big occasions. Like two years ago in the French Open final, when she led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 only to fall apart.

She said her defending champion status takes a lot of pressure off.

"Mentally, I am pretty relaxed," she said. "So I just want to take the positive and to be in this position, I think, is the best thing. I am too happy to be in this position, I have to admit this. But there is nothing bad."

Although she has not won a title this year and lost her first match in Rome last week, Halep is confident she can achieve a deep run in Paris on the back of solid clay-court campaign. She won two Fed Cup matches on the slow surface last month and reached the final in Madrid.

"Even if I didn't win the final, I felt that my level is very high," she said. "I have confidence. Coming here, practicing, I felt really well."

Seeded third in Paris, Halep will open her campaign against Ajla Tomljanovic, a player she beat last year on hard court.

"It's going to be different because it's clay court," Halep said. "But still it's going to be a very tough match. She's powerful. She hits the ball strong. If I am able to do my game, I think I have a good chance to win."

___

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Related News

Young US archer Zach Garrett hits target on and off field

Aug 10, 2016

There's another showdown looming between well-known Americans in the men's archery tournament

Prince Fielder emotional as he ends career after surgeries

Aug 11, 2016

Prince Fielder says it will be tough not be able to play again after having to walk away from the game because of health issues after two cervical fusions in his neck

Top of the charts: Anthony now top scorer in US history

Aug 11, 2016

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points and became the leading scorer in U.S. Olympic history in Wednesday night's tough win over Australia

Sukan360 is a proud Malaysian Sports website enthusiastic in our local players and bring Malaysian sports news first and foremost.

Contact us: sales@sukan360.com

Soccer Racing Shootings Golf Sports Governance Men's Sports Women's Sports Press Releases