MIAMI, FL, USA - Top seed Simona Halep battled past an inspired Océane Dodin, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, to reach the Round of 32 at the Miami Open.
"I cannot tell you much about this match, because I don't really know how it is," Halep said, during her post-match press conference. "I felt just that I played bad, but it's a good day at the office and I'll take it."
"You have these days, and when you don't give up, it's the most important thing," Halep told the media. "I think that's why I won today, because I didn't give up. I didn't play well, but, you know, in the end, if you win it, you take only the positives."
Halep came to Miami without the threat of losing the No.1 ranking from rival Caroline Wozniacki, who reached the final in Crandon Park last year, but still faced a tremendous challenge from Dodin, a lucky loser forced to retire in the final round of qualifying who nonetheless overcame Veronica Cepede Royg in the first round of main draw action.
Halep said that Dodin "played well," as she broke the match down to the media. "She was hitting very strong balls, and at one point I didn't know where the ball is coming. So it was really tough to read her game. I never played against her. She served pretty well, over 100 miles [per hour], which is really good."
With her trademark blistering groundstrokes - the likes of which helped her earn a win over Dominika Cibulkova at the Mutua Madrid Open in 2017 - Dodin roared through the opening set and was two games from a career-best victory in the final set, leading by a break at 4-2.
The three-time Grand Slam finalist showed all her mettle to reverse the deficit, even as physical ailments plagued her between the first and second set, winning the final four games of the match to edge over the finish line after two hours and six minutes on court.
"Maybe previous years I couldn't win the matches in the third set, so I'm really happy that I changed this to myself, and I feel stronger," Halep said. "So when I go to the third set, I don't panic. I'm relaxed and I'm just fighting till the end, and I'm sure that I have a big chance to win the match, so I just go for it."
In all, Halep struck 20 winners to 26 unforced errors, a more even differential to Dodin, who wowed the Stadium Court crowd with 35 winners but struggled with her consistency towards the end of the match, ending with 52 unforced errors and 16 double faults.
Things are unlikely to get easier in the next round for Romanian, who next takes on No.30 seed and former World No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska. The 2012 Wimbledon runner-up hasn't been in top form of late, but showed signs of promise against a fast-rising Alison Van Uytvanck earlier in the day.
"It's always tough to play against [Radwanska], because she's very intelligent," Halep explained to the media. "She's very smart on court, and I have to be more aggressive than today. I have to take the ball faster."
"We will see how is gonna be, but definitely it's gonna be a tough match," Halep continued. "So I'm ready for it. I'm ready to run. I'm here just to try to play better and better day by day."