Fearless Halep to face one-time nemesis Radwanska in semis
Simona Halep didn't let the journalist finish her question.
The world No. 4 wasn't rude, no. On the contrary, her reply drew smiles from across the floor.
Halep was asked if that "mental block" she said she had against Agnieszka Radwanska before she beat the latter in the Rome International last year, still existed.
Her reply was quick, enthusiastic, and perhaps hints at the burgeoning confidence of the Romanian, not just for today's semi-finals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global where she will face Radwanska, but as she takes on the best of women's tennis.
"Yeah, it's gone, it's gone," said Halep, chuckling. "I'm not afraid, I just want to enjoy (the semi-final against Radwanska) - I have nothing to lose."
Halep did lose yesterday, 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 3-6, to Ana Ivanovic, in the final Red Group match but, by winning the second set, she ensured that world No. 1 Serena Williams survived the group stage and advanced to the semis, at the expense of Ivanovic.
Halep's performances in Singapore have certainly boosted her reputation, especially that 6-0, 6-2 demolition of Williams in an earlier group fixture which threatened to send the American out of the tournament.
"I think Halep's very gifted, and I would consider her an exception," said Billie Jean King, the woman whose name adorns the trophy that will be presented to the winner of the WTA Finals.
"(Martina) Hingis was in that same category. I think they're both brilliant. The way they think and develop the points."
Halep admitted to being stopped on the streets in her native Romania for photos and autographs, but she has her feet firmly on the ground.
Her post-match press conference last night was peppered with the words "normal" and "practice" and "focus", but one thing was clear - the girl who once doubted her abilities is now a woman who oozes confidence.
"I knew that it (William's exit) can happen if I lost... I didn't care, I'm not afraid to play again against Serena," Halep said of her match against Ivanovic.
This is Williams, a woman who at 33 has 18 Grand Slam singles titles to her name and is still dominating women's tennis. But belief in the diminutive Romanian continues to grow, even in those who have beaten her.
"It's definitely a tough, tough competition," said Ivanovic, when asked who she thought could go all the way and lift the coveted trophy.
"Simona has been in great shape, I really think she has the game and she uses the court well - I hope she can do well."
A year ago, she might have rated herself as an underdog when she met Radwanska, but it will be a different Halep when she takes to the court against the same opponent today.
"I know her very well, I played her twice this year, it's 1-1. We'll see. I believe that I have a chance to win," she said.
Whatever happens, Halep will remember this week for a long time to come.
"I will smile because I'm in the WTA Finals semi-finals for the first time, I have to be happy, I played very well here, I beat the No. 1 in the world, so I have no reason to be sad," she said.
"I will try to win (today) and, of course, I will never forget this week."
I’m not afraid, I just want to enjoy (the semi-final against Radwanska) — I have nothing to lose.
— Simona Halep