Simona Halep considers Madrid one of her favourite places, not just to visit but to play as well. And Halep, who is one of the favourites to clinch the Madrid Open title, kick-starts her campaign on Friday.
Speaking to reporters from Spanish news agency EFE, the Romanian national has revealed that the Spanish city is one of her ‘special’ places.
“I feel great, and I’m happy in Madrid,” said Halep. “Here, my game looks great, and there’s nothing else I can be asking for. I feel at home here, this is a great tournament, and actually I’ve been looking forward to returning here for two years.”
Life in a Bubble Taking its Toll?
Many sporting tournaments have circumvented restrictions by having their participants enter a ‘bubble’ for the duration of the event.
This usually means that, when they are not playing, the participants are to stay in their hotel rooms, browsing the web, playing online casino games, streaming movies and such instead of roaming the streets of the cities they are visiting.
Playing games at the Spin online casino is fun, a great way to kill time while you’re locked up in a bubble. But let’s face it, it’s no match for roaming the streets of Madrid in the spring.
And ‘bubble life’ is taking its toll on the players.
Halep told the press a month ago:
“It’s tough to stay closed in the hotel, in the bubble, like every tournament. I don’t believe that all the players can perform at the highest level that they can offer.”
While she does appreciate the rules in place, especially after having had contracted the disease herself, this situation is still, as she put it, “exhausting”.
A History of Winning
Simona Halep and the Madrid Open have a history. Halep finished a runner-up in Madrid in 2014 for the first time, followed by two victories in 2016 and 2017, and another runner-up position in 2019, holding the record for the female player with the most finals in the history of the tournament.
When it comes to playing in Madrid, Halep doesn’t leave anything for chance. The court at Caja Magica has “more complicated conditions”, with the balls bouncing higher, conditions that help her perform better. She said:
“I trust that I can make a great game on this court.”
Halep’s Road to the Title Shot
Next, Halep will face the winner of the game between Magda Linette of Poland and Saisai Zheng from China, followed by her first “tough” opponent, Belgian player Elise Mertens. Mertens has been in some solid form since the pandemic break ended last season.
And if she wins, she will get a chance to have her ‘revenge’ on Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus who eliminated her from the semifinals of the recently concluded Stuttgart Open.
If she overtakes this obstacle, too, she is in for a game against either Naomi Osaka or Karolina Pliskova, and in the finals, she may face Ashleigh Barty, Iga Swiatek, Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, or Garbine Muguruza, depending on each player’s progress through the competition.