Defending champion Simona Halep was marvelling on Sunday at a welcome return to the Rome Masters just eight months after winning the title.

The 2020 edition at the Foro Italico was postponed from May due to the COVID shutdown of tennis.

But timing is everything for the second seed, who could not wait to get back to the Eternal City after losing in the Madrid third round last Tuesday.

“The weather is beautiful, the courts are beautiful, the club is beautiful,” the Romanian third seed said. “Everything is beautiful here in Roma. 

“I’m really happy to be here. It’s alive and the energy is nice. I feel good and looking forward to starting the tournament.”

The holder said the intervening months since her title have flown by.

“It’s weird that six months ago I was here . It’s a little bit different. It’s nice because it’s one of my favorite tournaments – I don’t mind to be here.”

She added: “I have no expectations and no pressure about defending

the title, because it’s another year, it’s a different time. 

“But I’m excited to be here, so I just want to give my best. The first match (second round after a bye against either Angelique Kerber or Market Vondrousova) is going to be very, very tough. 

“I’m just here to give what I have.”

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