This was not like stepping on the court inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for a night match. It was far more nerve-wracking for Simona Halep.
The world No. 2 threw out the first pitch before Tuesday night’s New York Mets game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, delivering a strike down the middle (albeit a bit short) before she takes the court across the street for the US Open, which begins on Monday.
Halep, who wore her favorite number 13, said her coach Darren Cahill got her watching baseline almost every day to prepare after she found out she'd be throwing the pitch a few weeks ago.
“First time when I heard, I was really excited,” Halep told Baseline. “It’s the first time I’ve come to this stadium, and first time on a baseball court so I’m really excited and nervous at the same time.”
While the 25-year-old has played in the biggest stadiums in the world, she was blown away by the size of Citi Field, which is just across the boardwalk from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“It’s a little bit different in this huge stadium and it’s very beautiful,” Halep said. “I’m used to the tennis stadiums and this one to me looks more special. I cannot imagine how it is to play in front of so many people. I believe that you are nervous down there and I’m sure that the players are very strong mentally.”
Next week, it will not be a surprise to see Halep play in front of a capacity crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world. But what was she more nervous to do, play there or throw out the first pitch?
“Doing this for sure, because I’m not used to it,” Halep said. “It’s the first time in my life and I don’t know how I will handle the pressure there, because I’m a little bit under pressure throwing this pitch for the first time.”
It is safe to say that Halep delivered an ace, especially compared to an all-time blooper from a few years ago when rapper 50 Cent threw out the first pitch.
Halep got to meet many of the Mets, including Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, AJ Ramos and Brandon Nimmo, who she spoke with extensively in the dugout about her career and the upcoming US Open.
She also caught up with 2017 US Open champion—in golf —Brooks Koepka, and Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.
All in all, Halep enjoyed her first baseball experience, a good start to her time in New York.
“It’s nice to be back here at the US Open,” Halep said. “I always play good tennis. I’m looking forward to starting.”
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewikesports