Eugenie Bouchard may have claimed she had a lot of support from the locker room ahead of her match with Maria Sharapova in Madrid but defending champion Simona Halep assured she was not one of them.
Bouchard, one of Sharapova’s most vocal critics who beat the Russian in three sets on Monday night, said many players came up to her before the contest to wish her luck, which she sees as an indication that they share her strong views against the doping offender.
Halep was asked if she was one of those players who spoke to Bouchard. The Romanian said: I didn’t wish good luck to Bouchard because we don’t speak, actually. She’s different, I can say. I cannot judge her for being this. I cannot admire her for being this. I have nothing to say about her person.”
The 25-year-old from Constanta does not feel any extra motivation to defeat Sharapova, who is back from a 15-month drugs ban – unlike Bouchard, who said she had a little extra incentive to defeat the Russian, whom she considers “a cheater”.
“And about Maria Sharapova, she’s back. I’m not thinking that much, because many players are difficult in this level of tennis, the highest level of tennis. For me it’s the same if Maria is here, if Maria is not here. I don’t feel extra motivated. I didn’t meet her yet. But it’s the same for me,” assured Halep.
The third-seeded Halep pulled off a remarkable comeback against Roberta Vinci on Tuesday to reach the Madrid third round. Vinci served for the match in the deciding set but Halep struck back to complete a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2) victory over the tricky Italian.
“Her game is not easy to play. Her slices are very difficult to return. She was hitting pretty strong also with the forehand today, serve, everything. She played unbelievable,” said Halep, who next faces Australian Sam Stosur.
“Yeah, I was close to lose the match. But I stayed strong. I stayed focused. I didn’t give up. That makes this match much more like bigger for me. It means a lot.”
Halep has been working hard on keeping a positive attitude during her matches, even if she is behind in the score.
The Romanian is too often hard on herself and the negativity can sometimes take over.
But against Vinci on Tuesday, Halep turned around a 2-5 deficit in the decider and was proud of her performance.
“I worked a lot. I think today I was very good, maybe the best way that I’ve been this year so far,” she said of her attitude.
“I try just to stay positive, even if I was down, like 5-2 also in the third set. I was close to lose it. But, yeah, I just want to stay there positive. It’s tough to stay positive when you are 5-2 down. But still I tried just to play every ball and not thinking about the score.
“It was good this time. I don’t want to repeat it. But it was a good match, strong mentally for me. I’ve been strong till the end. That gives me more confidence that I’m strong mentally.”