Halep unperturbed by French Open title challengers

By Sports Desk May 22, 2019

Defending champion Simona Halep insists she is not concerned by a crowded field of contenders as she concentrates on herself at the French Open.

Former world number one Halep ended her wait for a first grand slam title at Roland Garros last year, but she has won only one WTA Tour event since.

Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka has won consecutive grand slams in New York and Melbourne, with Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova excelling in recent clay-court tournaments.

But Halep's focus is on her own improvement as the third seed prepares for a maiden major defence.

"All of them are very tough opponents, but I don't see my opponents as rivals," the Romanian told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot.

"I just try to learn from every match I play against them. I lost to Kiki in the final of Madrid, so if I play next time, I just want to be better than that match.

"I see all of my opponents the same so, for me, it's important to focus on myself every time."

Osaka is the world number one coming into the tournament, yet Halep believes rankings count for little at a grand slam.

"It matters to have some good matches before, along the road," she said. "But you never know. Every day you can play good tennis, even if you didn't have good matches before.

"For me, the ranking doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you are two, three, one, five. At this tournament, every match is difficult and every opponent is working hard.

"You just have to be focused, be prepared for everything, and try to give your best – that's the most important thing."

Halep is yet to win a Tour event this year and has suffered with hip and leg injuries, but the 27-year-old insists she is primed and ready for Roland Garros.

"I feel better, I feel ready to start the tournament," she said. "I had two finals this year, good finals, so I'm not disappointed about the start of the year.

"It's not always been the best year, so I'm trying more to enjoy my life, which I did, and I'm happier."

Halep had twice suffered defeat in the French Open final before last year's triumph over Sloane Stephens, and also lost the 2018 Australian Open final. 

Related items

  • Popyrin eases into Atlanta second round, Thompson falls Popyrin eases into Atlanta second round, Thompson falls

    Alexei Popyrin stormed into the second round of the Atlanta Open, but fellow Australian and seventh seed Jordan Thompson crashed out.

    Popyrin won almost 70 per cent of his service points as he eased past Denis Kudla 6-3 6-4 at the ATP 250 tournament on Monday.

    The 19-year-old – who tallied nine aces – will face fourth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert for a spot in the third round.

    Thompson was a first-round casualty in Atlanta, where he fell 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-3 to Brit Cameron Norrie.

    Norrie's three-set victory earned him a match against either South Korean qualifier Kwon Soon-woo or Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

    Third seed Alex de Minaur awaits American Bradley Klahn, who saw off Marius Copil 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

  • Siniakova halted by rain, Parmentier out in Palermo Siniakova halted by rain, Parmentier out in Palermo

    Poor weather stopped Katerina Siniakova as she led at the Baltic Open, where Margarita Gasparyan departed on Monday.

    Siniakova, the third seed in Latvia, was impressing in the final match of the day, leading Anhelina Kalinina 6-4 4-3, when the match was suspended due to a downpour.

    The duo will be forced return to the court on Tuesday.

    Gasparyan will not be back, though, as she retired when trailing 6-4 4-6 4-0 to Irina Bara.

    Diana Marcinkevica ensured there would be a home representative in the next round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Kamilla Rakhimova, while Dalila Jakupovic won the other main-draw match 6-3 7-6 (7-5) against Ana Bogdan.

    Pauline Parmentier, who notably defeated Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon, fell at the first hurdle at the Palermo International.

    The fifth seed went out to Paula Badosa 6-4 7-6 (7-4), but fourth seed Tamara Zidansek fared better, beating Lara Arruabarrena 6-2 6-3.

  • Paire, Garin & Mayer crash out of German Tennis Championships Paire, Garin & Mayer crash out of German Tennis Championships

    Seeded pair Benoit Paire and Cristian Garin were dumped out of the German Tennis Championships on Monday, along with two-time former champion Leonardo Mayer.

    A day of upsets saw Paire go down to countryman Jeremy Chardy, while Garin went out to Andrey Rublev.

    Fifth seed Paire scraped through the opening set but ultimately came up short, losing 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-3.

    Mayer's defeat was perhaps the most shocking reverse, though, as he lost to 18-year-old wildcard Rudolf Molleker in straight sets.

    Home hopeful Molleker came through a first-set tie-break 10-8 and then secured the only break of the match to see off the 2014 and 2017 winner. Mayer had also reached the final last year.

    He was the only German player to win on Monday, however, as Martin Klizan - himself a former champion - eased past Daniel Altmaier.

    Philipp Kohlschreiber was easily dispatched by Marton Fucsovics.

    At the Swiss Open Gstaad, 2014 winner Pablo Andujar came through three sets against Dennis Novak, while Roberto Carballes Baena also advanced.

    Corentin Moutet exited at the hands of Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, but Stefano Travaglia, who defeated Fabio Fognini at last week's Croatia Open Umag, progressed.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.