As the Mutua Madrid Open rolls around each year, Simona Halep is sure to be wearing a smile. It is no secret that the world number three feels very much at home whenever she sets foot in the Caja Mágica. But this year is even more special after such a long wait.
“I was waiting actually two years to be back here”, explained Halep with the smile of someone who has just returned home. The Romanian has always produced in Madrid. Champion in 2016, a successful title defence in 2017 and runner-up in 2019 (lost to Kiki Bertens), everything about Madrid makes Halep happy.
“It feels special. I feel like home definitely. Great conditions, great people around me. They make everything to make me feel good”, explained the Romanian, a fan favourite in the Caja Mágica.
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) April 26, 2021
Aware of the circumstances, Halep is particularly grateful to be in Madrid competing. “We have to be thankful that these tournaments are happening. It’s a privilege actually to be playing in these times, these hard times that we are going through.”
Spaniard Sara Sorribes, a wildcard and something of a sensation so far in the 2021 season, awaits the two-time champion in her opener. “It’s a tough match”, admitted Halep. “I played against her in the French Open last year. I know that she loves clay. It’s going to be a tough battle”, she predicted.