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HALEP ON WIMBLEDON: NO EXPECTATIONS

2015-6-23


LONDON, England - Though she's better known for her success on hard and clay, Simona Halep has been a very big threat during the grass court season the last few years. She won one of her first WTA titles at 's-Hertogenbosch in 2013, and she made it to the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2014.

So when she was asked at the Aegon Classic Birmingham what she's expecting from this year's grass court season, many were left scratching their heads when she said she's expecting nothing.

But there's a reason for it - a reason that just might help her to the Venus Rosewater Dish.

"On clay I had too much pressure and I couldn't handle it," Halep said, alluding to her second round loss to the always-dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at Roland Garros, where she was one a favorite.

"I was blocked. I couldn't play at the French Open. It's really tough to play against Lucic - she beat me at the US Open too - but I just couldn't play my game. I was very disappointed to lose second round.

"After that I took some days off at home and relaxed my mind. I wanted to come back stronger and more relaxed. Now I just want to go on court and play how I know - I don't want to think like I have something I have to do on grass. I have no expectations. I just want to enjoy without pressure."

Though Halep didn't lift the trophy in her first tournament of the grass court season in Birmingham, she looked fantastic en route to the quarterfinals, not dropping a set. And it's not like the World No.3 crashed out - it took WTA Rising Star Kristina Mladenovic a third set tie-break to make it past her.

The Romanian looked like a natural on the slick grass courts of the Edgbaston Priory Club.

"I can say that I have the style to play on grass," she said. "My style is to play fast. I stay low because I am not very tall, so it helps me to stay down and take the ball very quickly. And I've been serving well too - I've improved my serve a lot. Now I have to improve my return a little more, I think.

"So yeah, I think I play well on grass. I think it fits my style."

Halep has won 14 of her last 18 matches on grass, a stretch that dates back to the start of the grass court season in 2013 and includes a number of great grass court wins, including Sabine Lisicki in last year's Wimbledon quarterfinals (and Lisicki has beaten Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova there).



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