Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has often found herself at odds with the US Open's New York state of mind, but the former World No.1 is resolved to finally find her rhythm at the final Grand Slam tournament of the season.
David Kane
August 23, 2019

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Your first love isn't always your soulmate, and though the US Open was the first major tournament where Simona Halep reached the second week, it now stands as her least successful Slam.

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For the reigning Wimbledon champion, 2018 Roland Garros winner and Australian Open runner-up, "least successful" is undeniably relative, and the Romanian has made it to the semifinals in Flushing Meadows - back in 2015, defeating fellow former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka en route. But after back-to-back first round exits, Halep admits the setting isn't ideal for her quiet spirit.

"It's a little bit too much for me," she said during Friday's US Open Media Day. "But I'm getting used to it more and more. I try to adjust myself as much as possible to this atmosphere. It's loud and it's different. There are many people around.

"I like it, but as spectator. As a player, it's a little bit tougher for me, but year by year I'm getting better. So I have to work to improve more."

The No.4 seed, who has a shot at reclaiming the No.1 ranking she had to start the season at this tournament, has been at the center of the US Open's spectacle of late. She played a thrilling three-set quarterfinal against Serena Williams under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights to back up her semifinal run.

In 2017, she faced five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in the first round in what became a classic match. A year after that narrow defeat, she opened the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, only to fall to another former Top 20 player, the always dangerous Kaia Kanepi.

"You never know what to expect. Everything that happens during a match here is a little bit different, and it's a lot for me. Hopefully one day I can be fully relaxed when I play a match."

If ever there was a time when Halep could feel peace on the East Coast, it's now, having emphatically captured a second major title at the All England Club - arguably the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center's antithesis. 

Simona Halep, US Open

"The pressure of doing something special, it's off. Now what comes, comes as a bonus. I'm still working, I'm still motivated to win titles. Now I started to feel more and more that I'm capable to do that, so my confidence is very high but doesn't mean that this week I'm going to be the same.

"I don't want to put expectations, like clear expectations on myself. I just want to take day by day and to see how good I can be every tournament."

Set to open against a qualifier or lucky loser - with a projected fourth round against the likes of two-time US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki or Rogers Cup champion Bianca Andreescu looming - Halep hopes a strict routine will help combat New York's often unpredictable atmosphere.

"I'm trying just to stay on my rhythm. I have my restaurants where I'm going. I went to Central Park just to relax myself. I'm doing easy things to get the rhythm, to get the pace that I need."