STUTTGART, Germany - It was a relaxed and positive Simona Halep who faced the media on Tuesday afternoon at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. The World No.5 is coming off a triumphant Fed Cup weekend, where she led Romania to a 3-2 win over Great Britain in the World Group II playoffs. In the midst of a swirl of controversy due to the abhorrent antics of Romania's captain Ilie Nastase, Halep played decisive, confident tennis to beat Johanna Konta and Heather Watson on her beloved red clay.
"I'm very satisfied with my performance there, both matches," Halep told reporters at All Access Hour. "I'm a little bit tired. We had a lot of stress those days. But I'm here, trying to recover, and to get ready for my singles."
Halep and Konta flew together from Constanta to Stuttgart, and Halep reassured the probing British press there was no lingering tension from the weekend.
"What [Nastase] did was wrong in my opinion," Halep said. "We cannot defend him in that direction... The way he talked I didn't like and I cannot accept that."
"After the match against Cirstea I went to [Konta] and said sorry about the situation that she had on court," Halep said. "She said it's fine, it was not [your] fault."
The contentious scenes in Romania over the weekend far overshadowed Halep's exemplary performances. The 25-year-old had a tough time after taking a disappointing three-set loss to Konta in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open, which saw her fail to close out the match in straight sets and proceed to berate herself in a revealing on-court coaching timeout with her coach Darren Cahill.
"I think everyone saw how negative I was in Miami," Halep said with a laugh. "It's not ok for myself. It's too critical to talk to yourself that negatively. It holds me down a lot. I lose a lot of important matches with that attitude.
"I had some conversations with Darren after that match. He said I have to change. He was a little bit upset, to be honest. And then I decided to clear my head, to see what I have done wrong, to see what I have to do better to get stronger and more positive on court."
Positivity seems to come easier for Halep now that she's back on her beloved clay. Though just 5 of her 14 titles have come on clay, it is where she won her junior French Open title, made her first Slam final in 2014, and it's the surface that she calls home.
"I've played everywhere, I've played well and I had great results," Halep said. "But which do I like the most? Clay. I feel home on this surface."
"On clay I feel safer and I feel the pleasure more to play than hard court because on clay you have the time to think a little bit, you are able to slide, you can open the court easier. So I like the clay court.
"I worked hard on my attitude. I just want to be positive. In Miami, I was very negative about my attitude. I think I was scared about my knee injury and everything together. I decided to change a little bit myself on court and it worked pretty well. I hope to keep it and to get stronger, because I need to improve more even if I did already. I want more."
Halep plays her opening match against No.17 Barbora Strycova on Wednesday. The Czech veteran beat Jennifer Brady 6-2, 6-2 in the first round.