A champion's unfolding: Simona Halep.
Goes through this year's landmarks (highlights), saying that every tournament she won,
had something of its own (different), special
A journey throughout 2013 : from Nurnberg to Sofia.
She's won 6 trophies and jumped 36 spots in the rankings since the start of the season.
What's behind those numbers : Nurnberg wasn't on her initial schedule. She wanted to withdraw
from 's-Hertogenbosch. She had her parents with her in Budapest. For New Haven she decided in
the last minute. Before Moscow she trained for just 2 days and in Sofia she cried for the first
time after a Win.
She brought a little of the fog from the mountainside. It's a wet November day, the 1st
day she held her racket for good after the short vacation and the physical cantonment from
Poiana Brasov. A skinny silhouette, with her hands deep in her jacket pockets and with the hood
over her forehead.
53-17 is the report between wins and losses in 2013 for SH
But people recognize SH, 22, the one who brought them joy and pleased them in 2013.
Signs some autographs , takes pictures with he fans who always have their cellphone with them,
graciously accepts the good wishes of the ones who cross her path.
Then , we sit for an hour , and the 11th ranked talks about how she got past this
unforgettable year, with his ups and downs, about her passions , about what she wishes for the
future and about the decisions that she took.
-Simona , if you would have a calendar of 2013 in front , what month would you pick first ?
- May ! Rome was in may and it was then when I felt the latch/switch. Especially because I had
family friends there that came to cheer for me . I was crossing a tough period because of that
back injury, which was serious and lasted for 3 months. I was going to tournaments, but I played
carrying that injury. Sometimes, i couldn't even move. In Rome though, I had some support,
especially spiritual and that gave me courage. Nevertheless , the 1st Q match was the toughest,
in all year maybe. I played A. Balducci and won 12-1. I was incredibly nervous, but the win came
as a fresh breath. Gave me confidence for the next matches , in which I played better and better.
- You won against top players there : Hantuchova , Kuznetsova, A. Radwanska, Vinci, Jankovic.
Yes , but I was the happiest when I won against Radwanska. Before that , it felt impossible to beat
her but, after I did it , I realized I can play well at a high level.
"I like playing in Germany"
- Let's go through every landmark of this year, starting with Nurnberg. It's a tournament that you didn't
have in your initial schedule, isn't it ?
Yes, that's right, because it was new in the WTA calendar . I made the schedule myself, at the beginning
of the year and I chose how I(t) felt right. When I saw Nurnberg , I told myself : "I'll ignore the rest of
the tournaments and I'll play there" , especially because I always liked playing in Germany, ever since the
juniors where I also won a few tournaments. CONTINUING from last night
: I like the field (surface), it's a bit softer ,heavy, can hit the balls better , I control them better.
- And it was worth choosing this tournament.
Yes , but there I started also very slow against G. Min . After that, it was better and better. It was tough against Safarova in the semis ,because she was playing well in that period, and of course , in the Final against Petkovic. I felt that I could win my first tournament. I had somewhere in my mind the fact that I played 3 finals before and I lost them but this time ,for the 1st time, I believed in myself, that I could make the final step. I was very happy.
"8 hours with the train"
- After that , 's-Hertogenbosch came very fast. How did you get from Germany to the Netherlands ?
First of all , I wanted to withdraw from there . I suffered a sprain and I wasn't sure I could play. Then I told myself to try it , I took the train , I didn't want to fly that time. It was quite a long trip, 7-8 hours and I arrived on Monday after playing the final in Nurnberg on Sunday. I got to train only half an hour and Tuesday, I was already scheduled for the 1st match, against Beck . It rained all the time, but the play wasn't suspended because the surface wasn't that wet. There were 3 sets and It caught me well. It was meant to be like that.
- You were on the confidence roll from Nurnberg.
Definitely , that counted very much, especially because after that, I won against R. Vinci in the 2nd round ,who likes to play on grass, and against C. Suarez Navarro.
- Next : Budapest
I wanted very bad to play there. 2 years ago, I. Begu made the final there and since then, I told myself that I would play in that tournament. It's close (to my home) and also it's on clay. This year was a little bit awkward because there was no qualifying and a slimmer Doubles field and we were very few players . But I had my mom with me, and then, from the semis, my dad came too . Now , If I think about it, I realize that every tournament had something different (of its own) , every time something happened.
- Then , you continued on hard and raised your level. With New Haven ...
This one wasn't in the schedule also . I decided in the last minute and in the end it turned out very well. I felt relaxed, I had a driver , even a car that I drove personally. The match which freed myself was the one against C. Suarez Navarro who led my by 1 set and 4-2 but I fought back and from there on , I played better and better. It was tough because it was very hot outside, sunny and I was sick throughout the whole match because of that. But that past and I got to the end after it.
- The 5th title , Moscow.....
I didn't say this before, but for Moscow I trained for only 2 days. I was coming back from Asia, I injured my scapula in Tokyo and I couldn't even serve. I thought to myself to play the ball a little bit, to get ready for Sofia which was my next target. Then the draw was made and I should have played against Cibulkova and when I saw that, I didn't make any illusions to myself. But then, Kerber has withdrawn and I received a Bye and I got to play only on Thursday. It was almost a week since I arrived in Moscow [last Friday] and I was getting bored.
"In Moscow, it was probably the best tournament of the year for me. I like it there, everything is pretty similar to Romania, I also like the people , they're tough and mind their own business : I also liked the food , it's very delicious."
- And what did you do ?
Well, I went to Rybarikova's 1st match against Pervak , although I don't go in the stands to watch my opponents . I was a little bit afraid because I didn't train on the Court that I was supposed to play. Irony or not, Rybarikova retired after 1 set (which I won) . Then , against Kleybanova I was a little bit nervous , I knew what health problems she had and that she's coming back . Against Pavlyuchenkova it was different, easier , I was confident that I can beat her. And in the Final against Stosur, I played relaxed, with no pressure , for me it was a very good result anyway.
"6 trophies in 1 year"
- And I arrived in Sofia, the last tournament of the year.
- It was a special tournament. Ever since I found out that I could qualify , I told myself to play well there , it was something new, with groups. The more it was getting closer, the more anxious I was getting. Then, when I saw how many people cam to support me , it's close to my home , a few hours of driving (with the car) , I wanted more and more to win . There was my family, friends, relatives and even people that came there only to support me. That's why I cried after the final. It was the 1st time I was crying after a Win , because, throughout the matches, when I was younger, there were many more.
-You got past the groups without losing a set
I didn't think it would turn out like that. I was a little afraid of Cornet ,she's a good player, who gets well positioned and troubles me with her game. I had a retention , because she beat me once, in Monterrey. Against Svitolina , it was easier but I played very late , at my usual bedtime hour. But I got past it the next day when I went shopping a little , I bought me a bracelet (smiles) and it forgot about it.
-The semifinal and the final ,though, were much more intense.
Just in the last days I watched these matches , I didn't watch them before and I realized that, against Ivanovic we both played well up until 3-0 in the decisive. Then, I had some luck when she made easy unforced errors, but that was that. I wanted very bad to win , especially for the public. In the final, against Stosur it was more thrilling in the beginning, there was also Ilie Nastase in the stands and I also had the thigh injury.
Top 3 biggest prizes for Simona in 2013:
Sofia -> 270.000$
US Open -> 165.000$
Moscow -> 132.470$
- In the end, you got rid of the bandage.
The trainer told me that it's good for the muscle to be protected but I was starting to sweat, it began to slip and It was discomforting . I got rid of it and in the 3rd set , I completely forgot about it. Honestly speaking, she dominated me in the 1st part. She never played that well against me . That's why I took the things, ball by ball, I didn't give up and in the end she made more unforced errors. The award ceremony was a special moment, unique . When the played "We are the Champions" I got touched terribly. That was that , these are the most important moments.
1.222.446$ won Simona from tennis in 2013, reaching a career total of 2.039.645$.
2 series of 9 wins in a row she managed in 2013 - Nurnberg -> 's-Hertogenbosch and Moscow -> Sofia.
Apart from tennis, between white roses, Rome and Gerard Butler
The most valuable tennis player from Romania would want to visit (at leisure) , Italy's capital and in Romania , she oscillates between her birth town , Constanta and a place, somewhere in the mountainside.
husky (because they have blue eyes)
A place in Romania :
Constanta but also somewhere in the mountainside (Brasov I say)
Gerard Butler (now) , Richard Gere (in the past)
In the 2nd part (next days) of the interview , you'll find out :
- where is Simona's first racket
- where she keeps her trophies
- what she did with the 1st money prize from tennis.