WUHAN, China - Simona Halep is aiming to end her hex in China this week at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. The World No.5 was forced to withdraw from last week's Toray Pan Pacific Open due to a hamstring injury and she's now struggling with every tennis player's worst enemy: jet lag.
"I practiced two times already here," Halep told reporters at WTA All-Access Hour on Sunday. "I feel good. On the court I feel a little bit tired. I cannot sleep like I do always.
"Last night I slept four hours, so I am much better than the first night," she said with a laugh.
Coming off a strong summer swing that saw her win two titles (Bucharest and Montréal) and suffer just three losses since the French Open - all to either No.1 Angelique Kerber or No.2 Serena Williams - Halep comes into the Asian swing looking to qualify for the WTA Finals for a third consecutive year. Currently No.3 in the Road to Singapore, the 24-year-old is in good position to lock it up sooner rather than later. But to do so she'll need to break her sub-par trend of results in China at this time of year.
Although Halep won in Shenzhen two Januarys ago, she is just 6-6 on Chinese soil during the fall swing, with her best result coming in 2014, when she made the quarterfinals of the China Open. That also happens to be the only instance in four appearances that she made it past the first round there. In her two appearances in Wuhan, her best result came last year in the third round, where she lost to Johanna Konta.
"I don't feel that it's tough to find the motivation and the energy," Halep said when asked about the Asian swing, who added that though her hamstring may not be healed, she's been able to practice pain-free for two days. "I feel okay. But here everything is different: food, people, the country is different. It's not easy to adapt so quickly."
Halep will be without her coach Darren Cahill in Wuhan. He plans to rejoin the team next week in Beijing.
"I'm not tired mentally," Halep said. "I'm confident. But you never know here. Every match is difficult at this level. I just want to give my best, to do as much as I can to this end of the season. It's important, because last years, previous years, I didn't play that good. So I want to change it."
Halep will play her opening match against her countrywoman Irina-Camelia Begu on Monday.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.