Halep targets Stuttgart success on return to clay

FILE PHOTO: Mar 25, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Simona Halep of Romania hits a backhand against Caroline Garcia of France (not pictured) in the second round of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Former world number one Simona Halep said she has recovered from a right shoulder injury that forced her out of the Miami Open last month and is determined to kick off her European claycourt season with a long-awaited win at the Stuttgart Open.

The Romanian pulled out of Miami, her first tournament since a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open in February, after experiencing soreness following practice sessions.

"I had more than two weeks' break and some treatment on my shoulder. I feel much better," the world number three told reporters at the WTA 500 event.

"I didn't have pain in the last few days that I practised at home and also here. Hopefully, I can stay like that during matches because matches are different from practice."

Former French Open champion Halep has won every major European clay title on the WTA calendar except Stuttgart.

"I want it badly. It's a nice tournament, nice conditions, the people are nice to me here," she said.

"It's one of my goals to win this tournament as well. I want to win all the claycourt tournaments if possible."

Halep said Australia's strict COVID-19 restrictions means her coach Darren Cahill will remain in her corner throughout the claycourt swing.

"He'll be with me because he can't get back home ... he's stuck with me. He's been in Romania for a week," Halep said.

"We trained very well back home. Now, he's here for the first time and it's nice to have him the whole clay season because it's my favourite. To have him means a lot. I have confidence when he's around."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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