Halep confident of living up to top-seed status at WTA Finals
Romania's world No. 2 working hard to live up to her billing next week
When The New Paper called her the Queen of the Hard Court, world No. 2 Simona Halep tittered and took a second to take it in.
"Wow, it's an honour to hear this," said the 24-year-old, who is the top seed for the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, which will be held at the Indoor Stadium from Sunday to Nov 1.
"I'm fast, I'm not very tall (1.68m) and I think the movement is really important on hard court. I like to play the ball fast so that makes me faster on hard court," she said.
Halep met 20 fans at the stadium yesterday.
They were the lucky winners from a competition conducted in conjunction with SPH Radio, and were taken on an exclusive back-of-house tour, culminating in a meet-and-greet session with Halep.
The Romanian has three titles (Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells) and 40 match wins on hard courts this year, and it stands her in good stead for the WTA Finals, which will be played on her preferred surface.
The friendly Romanian declared that if she plays the kind of tennis that made her the most successful female player on hard courts statistically this season, she will land her first WTA Finals trophy and a huge chunk of the US$7 million ($9.7m)prize money that goes to the winner.
She said: "If I play my best, yeah, I have a chance to win the title. But it won't be easy to play my best.
"I'm trying to practise well, I'm working hard, and we'll see when I start the tournament.
"I'm not cautious about anyone because I'm not thinking about that.
"I just want to focus on my game, to enjoy this tournament, because it's the last one before I go on holiday, so I just want to give everything and then relax myself."
Halep created history when she became the first Romanian to make it to the WTA Finals last year, and she duly churned up shockwaves when she whipped 21-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams 6-0, 6-2 in a round-robin match.
She reached the final but, this time, Williams took revenge.
With Williams pulling out of this year's tournament, Halep is favoured to lift her first WTA Finals trophy.
She said: "I'm not disappointed Serena will not be playing, but I feel sorry for her if she is injured.
"It's not easy to fight Serena all the time.
"I beat her a few times this year and last year so it's okay. I feel good and I just want to take every match as a big challenge because everyone's playing well.
"Serena is not playing, so the tournament is open. (Garbine) Muguruza is playing well, and (Agnieszka) Radwanska is starting to play well again.
"It's going to be a tough tournament with tough matches, but that's beautiful in tennis, to always have big challenges."
Halep has one more advantage on her side - her consistency helped her qualify early for the WTA Finals as one of the top eight players and allowed her to arrive in Singapore on Monday to acclimatise, while some of her rivals next week are still trying to earn their ticket here days before the first match.
Said Halep: "It's good that I qualified before them and I'm relaxed coming here. I have confidence coming back here but it is better to be focused for every match."