WTA Finals: Simona Halep “happy to win first match”

Shortly after getting the better of Madison Keys for the fourth time this season, Simona Halep sat down with the press to talk about what she felt made the difference this time around against the American, while crediting coach Darren Cahill for helping to maintain her composure throughout the match.

WTA Finals: Simona Halep “happy to win first match”
Simona Halep celebrates after winning a point against Madison Keys in round robin action at the 2016 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

After defeating world number seven Madison Keys in the first match of the 2016 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, third seed Simona Halep told the press of her elation to get her first win at this year’s prestigious year-end championships under her belt, as well as what she felt made the difference this time around against the big-hitting American.

Halep Pleased with Efficient Victory

Speaking to the media just minutes after her first round robin match victory, Halep had plenty to say, expressing her happiness with the way she competed, despite admitting to panicking on a couple of occasions during the 69-minute contest.

“I felt very well on court today,” she said. “It was better that I knew her. I played [her a] few times this year. I won every time, so I had an advantage.”

“But still I played a good tennis. I think I played [and did] exactly what I had to play against her. I was focused, everything went as I wanted, so I’m happy with the way that I played.”

Halep Credits Coach Cahill for Helping to Maintain Composure in Key Moments

After taking the first set comfortably, the Romanian appeared to let her emotions get the better of her early on in the second, before her coach Darren Cahill came down to reassure her and explain that against a player like Keys, there will always be ups and downs; it’s just a case of getting as many balls back in play as possible and waiting for the right ball to attack.

“First game of the second set I had two break points and I missed that forehand very easy,” she noted. “Yeah, I was a little bit pissed. I called Darren at 2-1. He told me to calm down, so everything that I did.”

“Then I just stayed more focused. I felt that she’s coming back, she’s playing better and better, so I had to stay for every point there. With Madison, it’s always important to play every point and win every point.”

Later admitting to slightly panicking after missing “some easy shots” in the short period when Keys appeared to have gained the upper hand, the world number four made sure to remind herself of Cahill’s advice, saying that she was well-aware of the fluctuations in the American’s game, which can often end in a blistering winner or a questionable unforced error.

“I stayed there,” she said. “I think I did a good job. I was positive until the end. My serve helped me today a lot, even if I didn’t hit it very strong.”