Halep: Serena’s absence blows it wide open

Halep: Serena’s absence blows it wide open
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Published February 16th, 2015 - 14:35 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Simona Halep
Simona Halep

Simona Halep feels the field is wide open after Serena Williams pulled out of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships through injury on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Romanian has replaced the world No. 1 as the top seed in Dubai, but far from clearing her own path to the final, Halep believes Williams’ absence leaves the tournament anyone’s for the taking.

“It [Serena’s injury] has opened this tournament up,” said the current World No. 3, who has failed to progress beyond the last 16 here in three appearances. “Now everyone from the top 10 to 15 can win.

“I am confident, I can say I believe in my chance, but I still have to take it match-by-match to see how far I can go. The first match is always the worst so I will have to watch out.

“I think everyone is trying to beat me now because I’m in the top 10. It was the same before when I was in the top 50 and I was trying to play better tennis than normal against those above me.”

Of her own standing as the tournament’s new top seed, Halep, who faces either Germany’s Mona Barthel or Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova in the second round after a first-round bye, added: “I feel a little bit of pressure [as top seed], but I don’t want to think about, it’s about how you play every day and how far you can go in every tournament, it doesn’t matter what seed you are.

“Two years ago, I played qualifiers [here] and now I’m the top seed. It’s a little bit of a difference, but I have more experience and many good results from last year,” she added of 2014 where she recorded three career best finishes in the majors, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, the semi-finals of the Wimbledon and the final of the French Open.

“I got a lot more confidence in myself and now believe that I can be among the top players,” Halep added of her breakthrough year. “I changed many things in my game but the most important thing was in my mind, because I believed that I could play at the highest level and do well in the Grand Slams.

“It’s my dream to win a Grand Slam, it’s not easy but I came close last year. I still have a to work hard to get more matches in Grand Slams, I only started to play well in them last year, so I need more experience.”

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