Competing for the first time since Prague in August, Simona Halep is off to a winning start in Prague, beating Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 23 minutes. World no. 2 didn't compete in New York, staying in Europe and training on beloved clay, hoping for notable Rome and Paris results.
Simona likes the conditions in Rome, spending time in the hotel or Foro Italico and seeking the first title in the Italian capital. The Romanian will have to raise her level to achieve that, dropping half of the points in her games against the Italian and suffering five breaks from 12 opportunities offered to Paolini.
On the other hand, Paolini was terrible behind the initial shot, finding no free points or way to construct the rallies and impose her strokes. Simona broke her four times in each set, setting the third-round encounter with hard-hitting Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska on Friday.
Simona Halep is through to the third round in Rome, beating Jasmine Paolini.
"I didn't watch many matches from the US Open. I only watched the first set of the final, but no full matches. I don't know what happened there, but I have no regrets about my decision.
I'm sad that I didn't play, which is normal, but my decision was right when considering health issues and my inner peace. It's easier to travel when you are in Europe. I arrived in Rome with a private jet, and I feel safe here.
We can't leave the hotel but once we are at Foro Italico, it's great, the club is big, and we can practice. I feel confident about my chances here and in Paris, although I'm not thinking about Roland Garros at the moment.
I spent the last couple of weeks at home in Romania, working with my other coach. Daren came on Sunday, and it was nice to work with him after seven months. In one hand, I had a chance to practice on clay, but on the other, the players who come from New York had official matches in their legs in the last couple of weeks.
Both sides have some advantages. Playing Prague in August helped me a lot, competing against tough rivals like Elise Mertens. I will give my best in every match here in Rome and see what will happen. I don't know all the details about Roland Garros yet, but I'm sure the organizers will give their best to keep both players and fans safe.
I feel comfortable on clay, I have always been. I have been training and playing on clay for months, which is strange, as we are not used to that. I hope I can play at my best in Rome and Paris," Simona Halep said