Simona Halep reached the final of last year’s Australian Open, but the top seed says she does not feel any pressure this year.
World number one Simona Halep insisted “the results don’t matter any more”, but nevertheless expressed delight after beating Kaia Kanepi in round one of the Australian Open.
Having brought her 2018 season to a premature end due to a back injury, Halep demonstrated admirable grit and determination in coming from a set and a break down against Kanepi.
The Estonian had beaten Halep in the opening round of last year’s US Open, but paid the price for 62 unforced errors on this occasion as the top seed triumphed 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.
“It was a great match. I think both of us played really well for first round,” said Halep in a news conference following her win. “It was a tough draw, but I’m really happy with the victory.
“For sure, it’s really important for me, coming not very confident into this tournament. Since Cincinnati, I didn’t win a match. It’s a nice start, a nice day for me.
“I didn’t give up, which was really important. I think that’s why I could win the match.”
What a comeback!
— WTA (@WTA) January 15, 2019
After reaching the top of the world rankings and finally breaking her grand slam duck at the 2018 French Open prior to her injury lay-off, Halep is apparently keen to prioritise enjoyment in Melbourne.
“After these results that I’ve done, I see things differently,” she added.
“I’m trying just to enjoy more and to be happy on court … nothing else. The results don’t matter any more. I just want to improve in myself and also in my game.”
Halep is playing her first slam since splitting with long-term coach Darren Cahill, but revealed she had linked up with the Australian in Melbourne.
“It’s weird and tough [without Cahill], but he’s around,” she explained. “He gave me some advice. He came on court with me for some practices. I really thank him for being so close. We are great friends. Even if we are not coach [and] player, we are friends.
“I still felt that he’s my coach when he came on court. I didn’t feel any difference. He was very open, gave me advice. It’s great to have him around. Also it’s tough that he’s not in my team any more.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. For sure, I need a coach, because at this level you cannot do it alone. I’m just chilling for the moment, and we will see after this tournament.”