Simona Halep is one match away from returning to World No.1 on Monday's rankings, and discussed the mental effort required to hold onto the top spot after reaching the Miami Open semifinals.
David Kane
March 27, 2019

MIAMI, FL, USA - Simona Halep has finished the last two seasons as the WTA Year-End World No.1, and that experience was on display as she discussed possibly reclaiming the top spot with another win at the Miami Open.

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"I just found out from my coach that I need one more match to be No.1 again," she said after a 6-4, 7-5 quarterfinal win over Wang Qiang. "I think it's pretty much in my head, and I'm happy that I'm in this position again.

"It gives me confidence, because from the two months of the off-season, I didn't believe I would be so close again so fast. So it's going to be a big challenge, but I like to play with the pressure. So I hope tomorrow I play my best."

"Every single day that you're No.1 is a special day. So I will take that. And if I can do it tomorrow, I will be very proud."
Simona Halep

Though the Romanian lost the No.1 ranking to Naomi Osaka when the Japanese youngster won a second straight major title at the Australian Open, strong results in the Middle East put the reigning Roland Garros champion in pole position to take it back in Indian Wells and Miami.

"When I came here, I didn't think at all about this chance to be No.1," she nonetheless insisted. "It was very far, and I didn't want to think about it.

"But now that I'm one match away, I would take it, and I would take the talking about it, because it gives me a little bit of pressure. But as I said, I play well with pressure, and I think it's a big challenge. So is nothing negative in this way."

Simona Halep, Miami Open, Miami

Playing with pressure didn't always come easy for the 27-year-old, who recalled a tough moment at the Miami Open in 2017, when she allowed a negative attitude to boil over against eventual champion Johanna Konta.

"I am much better, way much better than before. In the last two years I think I didn't have many matches that I lost because of negativity.

"Today I had five games that I was negative, but I was able to turn it around, switch off and to try to be positive. It worked. All the matches I've lost in the last period were because I didn't play well enough, so the mental part is pretty good now."

Halep unwaveringly continues to credit former coach Darren Cahill, who nearly ended their coaching partnership after that moment in Miami, with helping to make those mental leaps, leaps she sees as essential, both to her previous reigns at No.1 and her maiden major title in Paris.

"He's very positive and very relaxed about everything. I just tried to learn how to be positive, because I used to be negative all the time. I think it's in my nature.

"After a tough match that I lost because of my negative mind, he told me that I'd make myself suffer alone, and that's why I'm not able to win matches - because my tennis is great. I really want to thank him again for that moment. It turned everything in my head and switched the button."

Simona Halep, Miami Open, Miami

Positivity not only helped turn things around against Wang, but also unlocked Halep at her very best.

"When I feel I play well, it makes me more relaxed. I enjoy more the time on court, and it gives me confidence that I'm able to do also very beautiful points, which I did today with the backhand. I start to feel happy on court, which is the most important thing for me."

Halep plays either fellow former World No.1 Karolina Pliskova or Marketa Vondrousova - who won their BNP Paribas Open encounter last week - on Thursday.