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French Open 2020: Confident Halep ‘honoured’ to be Roland-Garros favourite

In-form two-time grand slam champion Simona Halep feels confident she can add a third major to her tally, albeit in a very different Paris.

Simona Halep is “honoured” to be the favourite to win the French Open and the top seed says that tag will not put extra pressure on her to regain the title.

Halep savoured her first grand slam triumph at Roland-Garros in 2018 and went on to double her tally at Wimbledon last year.

The world number two has won back-to-back tournaments since returning to the WTA Tour following a six-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, her latest success coming at the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome last weekend against Karolina Pliskova.

Defending champion Ash Barty, the world number one, and US Open champion Naomi Osaka are among the absentees for what will be the final major of the year.

Halep, who plays Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round of her return to a Grand Slam after skipping the US Open, appears to be more concerned about the cold and rain in the French capital than being expected to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for a second time.

“I’m honoured to hear that I am the favourite, people thinking that I’m the favourite. But I don’t look in that way.

“I know that most of the players are favourite because everyone is working hard, everyone is ready for this tournament. So I’m not going into that too much. I just try to play my chance, try to play every match, and we will see how it is going to be in the end.

“It’s not extra pressure [to be the favourite]. I’m used to this kind of pressure because I’ve been number one seeded in the past. I’ve been in this position. So, no, I take it in a right way, and I take it as a normal tournament. So no extra pressure.”

“I feel good. I feel confident,” Halep added. “But you never know. So I will take day by day and I will try to give my best every day to get ready for the tournament.”

The Romanian also says it will be strange to play in the clay-court grand slam four months later than usual as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

“To play Roland Garros in September, end of September, it’s a little bit weird. But it’s nice that we have the chance to play at this tournament. We should thank everyone for fighting so hard to do it possible. Let’s see now who is going to be ready for it.”

“When it’s cold, it’s a little bit heavier and a little bit different. It’s a big difference between Rome and here, that’s for sure. Fifteen degrees less. I feel the cold. I feel like struggling a little bit. But it is the same for everybody.”

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