Coachless Halep relaxed ahead of Australian Open bid

Published by AAP

Top seed Simona Halep faces Kaia Kanepi in the Australian Open first round.
World No.1 Simona Halep hasn’t won a match since the US Open, having battled a back injury before a straight-sets loss to Ash Barty last week opened her season in Sydney.

Simona Halep would prefer to fly solo than rush into a new coaching union after losing esteemed Australian mentor Darren Cahill.

The coachless Romanian arrived in Melbourne in chilled out mode and feeling like bona fide world No.1 as she chases a first Australian Open crown seven months after finally bagging her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris.

“Yeah, it’s big difference. I can say inside myself because I did what I wanted to do. I won a Grand Slam finally,” Halep said on Saturday at Melbourne Park.

“Now I can say I’m a real No.1. Before I said without a Grand Slam, you are not a real No.1.

“I’m happy. I’m enjoying the time. Everything I’ve done last year made me be more relaxed.

“I try just to improve more in my game and seeing how good I can be in the future.”

But the 27-year-old will likely need to improve without Cahill, who has taken 2019 off to spend more time with his family in Australia.

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“It’s a little bit tough to change the person I’m working with every day because I get attached to the people, to my team. I cannot change fast,” Halep said.

“I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to feel that I’m ready to take another challenge. Every time you commit to someone in your team, you have to give 100 per cent.

“So I was not ready in the off-season. Now I’m feeling that I’m getting better. As I say always, at this level it is impossible without coach so maybe in the close future I will have someone.

“But for the moment, I’m just by myself.”

Halep hasn’t won a match since the US Open, having battled a back injury that limited the French Open champion to just one summer outing – a straight-sets loss to Ashleigh Barty last week in Sydney.

Hence she’s not placing too much pressure on herself ahead of her first-round clash on Tuesday with Kaia Kanepi, which is a rematch of the Estonian’s shock first round triumph back at the US Open.

“I feel good. I practiced very well these days. I’m looking forward actually to start it,” said Halep, who lost last year’s Open final to Caroline Wozniacki.

“But I have three more days, so I will chill another day, then I will start to be focused for what I have to do during the match.”

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