(Reuters) – World number three Simona Halep said she is more interested in silverware than her ranking and will focus on the Grand Slams and the Olympics as she looks to add to her trophy cabinet this year after a chaotic 2020 rattled by COVID-19.
The 29-year-old Romanian is among a women’s field stocked with top talent at the Miami Open, Halep’s first tournament in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, after she dropped out of the U.S. Open in August due to health and safety concerns.
“For me the goal is a Grand Slam, if it’s possible again to win one,” said the former world number one.
“Also the Olympics this year, because I really want for my career to have a medal. So now I’m looking for the tournaments more than the ranking.”
The two-time Grand Slam champion claimed three consecutive titles in 2020: Dubai in February, before the COVID-19 shutdown, and Prague and Rome in August and September, respectively.
This was despite limiting travel and missing out on some of her regular training.
Halep said she was happy to be competing in Miami — a tournament she has never won — despite struggling “a bit” with her shoulder, and facing a women’s field stuffed with talent, including top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia and number two Naomi Osaka of Japan.
There are still COVID-19 restrictions in place at the tournament, a reminder that life has far from returned to normal.
“We are still in the bubble, which is exhausting to stay in the bubble every week. But we have to respect the rules,” said Halep, who recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 last year and has since been vaccinated. “I feel more relaxed. I feel more comfortable to travel now.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis)