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Halep: “I don’t feel any pressure.”

Simona Halep insists she is feeling no pressure with her tag of second best player in the world. The Romanian became the world number two earlier this month but suffered disappointment in Madrid as she lost 76 63 to Alize Cornet in the first round.

Halep will hope for a positive week in Rome as she looks to go one better than her final defeat at Roland Garros to Maria Sharapova last year and win her first Grand Slam.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” she said. “Last year I was also number two. It’s OK, it’s normal to be there. I’ve won many matches this year so I’m trying to keep focused on court and work hard.

“I have some problems now because I lost in Madrid. I still feel good but I have to work more to still fight during the matches. I am a bit far from the way I have to play these matches.

“Everything is OK but in clay I don’t feel well right now because I have not had many matches. I still need some matches to touch my highlest level on clay. I have had some good results here.”

Halep’s best year at the Foro Italico came in 2013 when she was defeated at the semi-final stage by Serena Williams. This year she cannot mean Serena or Sharapova, who she lost to in a tense three-setter at Roland Garros, until the final.

“Maria’s playing the same on hard and clay courts,” she said. “She’s starting to move better now, we saw that in Madrid. “She’s a great player but I’m not thinking about that yet. I still have many matches to play.”

Women’s singles draw

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