5 Minutes With… Simona Halep

The Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2014 - Day Four

Defending New Haven Open Champion Simona Halep continues to rise in the rankings, moving to No. 4 in the World this week. We caught up with Simona to discuss her goals for the rest of the year, her favorite song and more!

New Haven Open Blog: You only dropped one set at last year’s New Haven Open, defeating four-time New Haven Open Champion and eighth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals and 2012 New Haven Open Champion and ninth-ranked Petra Kvitova in the finals. What do you remember most about your win in New Haven last year?
Simona Halep: I felt really well there. It was an amazing tournament for me because I won. I won against top players, and that was the most important thing. My memories from New Haven are very nice, and I can’t wait to be there again. It’s tough to say I can defend the title, but I just want to enjoy every minute there and do everything I can to reach the finals.

NHO: This time last year, you were ranked outside the top 50. Now you find yourself in the top five. Was there something you changed about your game, or something that happened, which jumpstarted your incredible winning streak?
Halep: I started to be more aggressive on court, and to fight for every point. Now I’m top five, and I have more confidence in myself. I just want to stay focused and do my job in the right way.

NHO: You potentially could be the top seed or one of the top seeds this year in New Haven. Does being a top seed in a tournament vs. a lower seed change your mindset or how you approach a tournament?
Halep: Well, it’s much better to be a top-seed because your early matches aren’t against the high-level players. There is also some pressure because you’re expected to win, but I will just try my best.

NHO: What are your goals for the rest of the year?
Halep: My goal is to play well in the Grand Slams, and to win more matches there. Hopefully make a semifinal if I can.

NHO: New Haven is known for its great restaurants. Did you have a chance to dine anywhere in the city during the tournament last year? Any favorite spots you remember?
Halep: I have a chance after the semifinal. I went in the city and had a beefsteak, but I hope I’ll have more time to tour the city this year.

NHO: Your bio on wtatennis.com says that you enjoy handball. Do you play ever, or is it something you like to watch? Did you play growing up?
Halep: I played in school when I was 12 or 13 year’s old. I scored many goals because I had power from tennis [laughter].

NHO: You grew up in Constanta, Romania, on the Black Sea. What is your favorite part about your hometown?
Halep: It’s a small city and pretty quiet. The Black Sea is really close to my home, and it’s really nice to visit.

NHO: What is your favorite song right now, or a band you are listening to a lot?
Halep: Happy by Pharrell Williams.

NHO: What are some of the movies you have seen or enjoyed lately?
Halep: Pretty Woman – I love that movie.

NHO: What are a few non-tennis items that you make sure to take with you whenever you travel?
Halep: I make sure to carry my stuffed bear. It’s a lucky thing for me.

2014 New Haven Open Free Lesson

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James Blake led the 13th annual New Haven Open Free Lesson last week, which introduced more than 350 youth to the game of tennis, emphasized the importance of fitness in their lives, and encouraged them to sign up for affordable summer tennis lessons through New Haven Parks & Recreation Department.

For a video recap, click HERE.