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The first round of the Citi Open in Washington D.C. got underway Monday.
USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — For No. 2-ranked Simona Halep, her decision to play in this week’s Citi Open was contingent on others’ choices.

“I chose this tournament because I asked for a wild card to Stanford and Washington. Stanford said no, and Washington said yes,” she said Monday. “So I am really happy that I received this wild card.”

While the Stanford Classic started on Friday without her, Halep is making her tournament debut in D.C. She will face Sloane Stephens on Tuesday night. Stephens won the Citi Open in 2015, her first WTA Tour title. She accepted a wild-card bid as well.

For Halep, the focus is less on who is across the court and more on balancing her own emotions. Earlier this summer, she detailed how she has been harshly self-critical in the past, and is now trying to focus on maintaining a more positive demeanor.

“I expect a tough one, but I’m ready. I’m feeling great,” said Halep, who has won 15 WTA titles.

It would have been easy to relapse to a more destructive mood after a summer that has had some disappointments. In June, she fell to unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final, after winning the first set and leading 4-0 in the second. If she had beaten Ostapenko, Halep would have won her first Grand Slam title and would have claimed the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career. 

A month later at Wimbledon, she came close to capturing the No. 1 ranking again. However, she lost to Johanna Konta in a quarterfinal match complicated by a fan screaming out during match point.

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Despite all this, Halep brushed off the idea that her new positivity had taken a setback.

“No. Not at all. I’m still confident,” she said. “But now I start a different season, of course, the hardcourt season.”

Halep, 25, believes playing a hardcourt tournament in the U.S. will help get her ready for next month’s U.S. Open. Last year, the Romanian made it to the quarterfinals in New York before losing to Serena Williams.

“Well this tournament is helping me to be in the best form for the U.S. Open. Last year I did really well in the tournament before the U.S. Open and also in the U.S. Open,” said Halep, who…