For the second consecutive season, Simona Halep claimed the WTA Year-End World No.1 Singles Award presented by Dubai Duty Free. The 27-year-old Romanian was the first player to be awarded the newly-christened Chris Evert WTA World No.1 Trophy after laying down her best season yet. After beginning the season in the top spot, Halep went on hold the No.1 ranking for all but four weeks of the 2018 season, bolstered by her maiden Slam win at Roland Garros in May.
"The fact that I am at the No.1 place gives me confidence for sure," Halep said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "Every time I step on the court I feel that I have to show everything I have and I have to give everything I have to deserve to be there. So maybe being No.1 motivates me to be 100% every time I step on the court and in the practices to try to get better. Because to be there and to stay there you have to pass your limit every time."
"I don't really understand why [being No.1] can wear you down because you dream about this your whole life, since you start to play tennis. Once I had it I felt inside that I was completed. I have to just keep the rhythm, to keep working with the same tension, and I just relaxed myself. I think I did pretty well and I handled the pressure very well. I was happy every time I was No.1 and now that I am No.1."
Halep and coach Darren Cahill join the WTA Insider Podcast to discuss their emotional journey over the last three seasons.
"Last year was a great year but really a roller-coaster of a year for her," Cahill said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "She took a few kicks to the stomach.
"I think the ability to mature over the last couple of years, to put her head down and realize that she wasn't far away. It's tough to keep that belief when you're so close and you don't quite get to where you're dreaming of going. But she worked incredibly hard in the off-season and the way she started the year really set up her year."
"This year was more physical than it's ever been for her on tour, with the types of matches she's played. But with it, if it becomes a physical match, that's more on her terms than anything. I give her a great chance of winning matches when it becomes physical, and with that, she got a couple of big wins."
"I feel like I've had a dream job the last three years because of the person I'm working with. Whatever she's achieved on the tennis court is all great, but what she is, the person off the court, really pales those achievements in significance because every day it's fun to wake up, set the goals, try and get a little bit better, try to accomplish things, and she's a total pro. A real professional. And that for me is more important than anything because if I'm going to spend 30 or 35 weeks away from the family, I want to make those days count and she makes sure they do count.
The Czech duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova also join the podcast to reflect on their surprising run to the WTA Year-End No.1 Doubles Award presented by Dubai Duty Free.
"I think when we started this season we didn't expect it," Siniakova said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "The goal was to qualify for Singapore and now we have two Grand Slam titles and even finishing No.1. It feels really amazing. Something big happened this season and we will both remember this for the rest of our lives."
Listen to the full interviews on the WTA Insider Podcast below: