Q&A with Simona Halep on Covid-19, not having to set an alarm and being Wimbledon champion for two years
Talking exclusively to Eurosport’s Tennis Legends vodcast, Simona Halep explains how she is handling the coronavirus pandemic as a tennis player and her thoughts on the cancellation of Wimbledon.
Q: What is the situation like for you at the moment?
Simona Halep: “Well, in Romania it’s pretty bad at the moment. Everything got cancelled and closed down. We have about 2000 cases and there are not so many deaths, but it’s getting a little bit worse, because we have many people coming from Italy and it’s a little bit, yeah, it’s not easy to manage everything for the hospitals. I was preparing myself. One week before they closed everything, I was self-isolating because I got a little scared about the virus and about what I was hearing from China and other countries. It’s not easy and I think it isn’t for anybody. It’s a tough moment because we cannot go out, but let’s accept it, let’s keep our mind positive because it’s the most important thing in these days.
“Anyway, I couldn’t play Indian Wells because I was injured, but I was so sad hearing this news that everything was to get cancelled. Because of this situation so I think we struggle; I have to be honest. We struggle, we miss the tour, I miss the tour. I miss the players and all the people that are involved in all the tournaments. I can take a positive thing from it. I am home since February and I’ve never been home for so long for several years now. And it’s a different life so I have just to accept it and try to enjoy it.”
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Q: What is your routine at the moment?
SH: “Well, I have 22 days in the house now, I didn’t go out at all. I just kept it very safe because I am a little bit scared about it. And I just want to stay chilled. So, I wake up at around 10 or 11.
“It’s very good to have a lot of sleep. No alarm clock, no schedule so I just wake up. I have a late breakfast and then I do some running here in the complex. Because we are allowed to do it, it’s a private residence.
“Everything is closed but you are able to run outdoors. So, I am doing the running and the training outside, from the bloc. And then in the house I work on my core and my other exercises. So, every day I am working and I feel fit yes.”
Q: Obviously it is disappointing not being able to defend your Wimbledon title?
SH: “Yeah, I take it positively, because I am now the defending Champion for two years. So, I have to live with that for one more year so that’s a good thing again. I am excited that I will be able to play the first match on Tuesday I think on Center Court. So, I really want to make this experience. It’s going to be great for sure.
Q: Do you think this break will last longer than July?
SH: “Well, in my opinion it’s going to be longer than July. We hope for US Open but it’s not sure because New York is struggling now. I don’t really know how it’s going to be after being off tournaments for so many months. We’ve never been in this situation so I think it’s going to be new to everybody. And I will struggle for sure. I will struggle to get back to the rhythm.”
Q: Are you playing any tennis at the moment?
SH: “It’s the longest period that I haven’t touched a racket. Not the ball, the racket – since Dubai. And I want to keep it that way for one more month.”
Q: What are your memories from that Wimbledon final last year?
SH: “Well, definitely it’s been the best match of my career, there’s no doubt. Before the match I was only concentrating on my memories from Singapore, when I faced her in the groups. Because in the final… I don’t want to talk about that. I was very focused on making her move and being aggressive because I knew that if I do some steps backwards, I won’t be able to handle her power.
“So, I said: on grass, she’s the favourite because she has experience and she faced those moments many more times than I did. Actually, it was the first time for me. And, mentally I was strong. I said that I had my chances and I have to go for it.”
Q: Are you thinking about this as disappointing in terms of your tennis career or is this such a huge problem in the world that you are not selfish whatsoever?
SH: “It’s just a world problem and I just want to say that it’s safer that everything got cancelled. It’s not a small problem, it’s a huge problem. And we just have to listen to what they say, to stay home and being very safe. Tennis is not everything in my life. Of course, I had so many years where it’s been a priority and it still is. I am doing everything possible to stay fit, to get very fast back to the rhythm when everything is going to start again.
“But no, I prefer to stay home, to wait and see and when everything is safe, I will start travelling again. Though if I am not a 100% safe, I am not going to leave home, so everything that has been decided already it’s perfect for me. Even if I miss the tournaments, it’s better to stay safe and to take these decisions.”
Q: Do you have in your mind yet a worst-case scenario for when you will be playing tennis again?
SH: “I know that the worst scenario in my head is that this year is going to be cancelled and yeah I am sure we are going to overcome this period if we listen and stay home safely. But for the moment, yeah, I think it’s going to be longer than July.”
Q: What parts of your game will you be looking to work on?
SH: “My longest break was three weeks until this break. So, I don’t really have that feeling/experience knowing how it is after such a long break without playing. So, I don’t know what to expect but the most important thing in my game, in my – let’s say style – are the legs. That’s why I keep running, because I need to keep my muscles activated. So, I feel that if I move well on court, the tennis is going to be okay.”
Simona Halep was speaking exclusively to a special edition of Eurosport’s Tennis Legends vodcast alongside Boris Becker, Mats Wilander and Tommy Haas
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