Simona Halep brings Madrid confidence to Roman clay

Rome: Madrid champion Simona Halep hopes to trade further on her Spanish success this week in Rome, with the sixth seed confirming on Tuesday her confidence is high for the WTA Italian Open.

Simona Halep. Pic/AFP
Simona Halep. Pic/AFP

Halep owns two semi-finals at the Foro Italico, with losses to Carla Suarez Navarro a year ago and to Serena Williams in 2013. But Romania's top player is currently bursting with confidence after beating Dominika Cibulkova for the Madrid title on clay at the weekend. Halep has turned her season prospects around after a poor start to 2016. "I didn't play the same at the beginning of the year, it was a tough period for me as I started the year a bit sick.

I couldn't train like I do now. "But I came back very strong, in my opinion, and played good tennis in Madrid. I have more confidence - I believe in my game. "I've started to work much more than before, so I'm all good. I feel good. The most important thing: I don't have injuries. I'm able to practise, I'm able to play matches. "That makes me feel more confident on court."

Halep played the 2014 Roland Garros final but lost in a second-round disappointment at the ensuing edition. She is hoping to change that scenario in a few weeks in Paris through continued hard work.

"It's tough to stay at the top, but now I'm used to being there, I've been almost three years to be in the top 10. "But I have to keep working every day the same. It's different tennis. I have to get used to it. I just need few days. "I have to play and to get better on these conditions, because they are similar to the French Open."

In the women's first round, ninth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russian beat France's Caroline Garcia 7-5, 6-4 while unseeded former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard advanced over Serbia's former number one Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Briton Johanna Konta put out Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-2.

On the men's side, Czech eighth seed Tomas Berdych booked the first of the third-round spots through his defeat of Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4. In the first round, there were wins for Nicolas Mahut of France and German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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