Three years removed from her first French Open final, Simona Halep was looking like the one to beat at the second Grand Slam of the season before the Romanian injured and aggravated ligaments at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
“I don't want to hide that,” she said of her obvious disappointment. “It happened just before Roland Garros, which is my favorite Grand Slam, but I cannot change it. I'm just trying to get better soon, to get stronger, because I need that, to be able to move.”
Halep moved at lightening pace through the clay court season, reaching the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix before defending her Mutua Madrid Open title, winning a Premier Mandatory title for a third straight year.
Leading Elina Svitolina at the Foro Italico, Halep played on after rolling her ankle, eventually falling in three sets and putting her Paris participation in doubt.
“A few days ago when I arrived here was like 50/50. Now it's more likely I’ll play, because it's getting better, and the last ultrasound said it's just two, three millimeters broken. At the beginning it was much more.
“I feel that I will play, but I still wait for tomorrow, another ultrasound, and then I will decide.”
The former World No.2 was tentative in her early practices on the grounds, but has looked better as the fortnight grew closer.
“Today was the first time when I was running on court, when I played some points. It's getting better. Tomorrow I have another ultrasound to see if the ligament is still broken or it's fixed.
“I feel much better, actually. Looks better. So I hope it’s going to be okay."
She even got a chance to hit with eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi.
“I was very excited for him to be here,” she said of the Hall of Famer, who she first trained with in Las Vegas alongside coach Darren Cahill. “I didn't expect him to stay whole practice.
“He gave me some advice, and he was happy to see me playing better, like last year I was much softer than now.”
Halep has certainly grown tougher in the face of adversity, shaking off physical and emotional lows to start 2017 to hit new heights on her favorite surface.
“I cannot change an injury. I had this with the knee, so I have experience. I’ve had problems with the ankles, like, six, seven times, so I know how it is. It is not so dangerous that you cannot play anymore, but still you have to be careful.
“I don't want to think about the negatives. I changed my mind after Miami, so I keep staying positive every day and to see what can I do here. It's going to be tough. But I'm ready.”
Halep will have a tough opener against Jana Cepelova, who upset the Romanian in the first round of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships.