SINGAPORE - Following a full Asian Swing, No.3 seed Simona Halep opted to travel home for the fortnight between Beijing and the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, both to relax and to welcome newborn niece Tania.
"I needed some rest with my family, with my friends," she said at Saturday's All-Access Hour in Singapore. "I played a lot of tennis. I did the training. I was pretty professional before this tournament.
"The previous two years I had my family here [at the WTA Finals], but now I'm not that important anymore," she added with a laugh. "My niece is the most important person in my family. They are home, so I'm alone, just with my team."
That team, which includes coach Darren Cahill, has largely been a winning combination in 2016, helping Halep to three titles, including the Mutua Madrid Open, a place she calls her "special tournament."
"I do the same preparation for every tournament. This one is a little bit tough because it's the last one and you have to still be focused. So it's not easy, but it's nice. It's a nice atmosphere here, and I always enjoy playing here. I have great memories from 2014 [when she made her Singapore debut and reached the final]. I hope to repeat that."
The biggest shifts the Romanian hopes to make are largely mental, with the former World No.2 chalking up her biggest disappointments to that aspect of her game.
"With Serena at the US Open I think was a mental reason that I lost that match. At Wimbledon, too, I was close to winning that match against Kerber. I will speak with [Cahill] about these mental things more."
? WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 22, 2016
Technically, Halep feels better than ever, particularly off the forehand side.
"I feel more confident when I hit it and I can make winners now with it."
Kicking off group play against No.6 seed Madison Keys on Sunday evening, the 2014 runner-up hopes the third time will be lucky, especially with a 10-7 record against fellow Red Group players Dominika Cibulkova and World No.1 Angelique Kerber.
"Every year is different. Every year you are nervous. Every year you are excited to be here. Of course, in first year you might have more energy, like, 'Wow, let's see how it's going to work.' I felt this in 2014.
"Last year I was a little bit tired; now I'm better than last year. When you get experience it's easier for you to handle the situation."
No matter what happens, however, "Aunt Simo" is undoubtedly looking forward to a relaxing off-season with her growing family.
"I will go home to spend some time with my niece, to see her starting to grow up."