‘With a Grand Slam title, now I am a real number one’

‘With a Grand Slam title, now I am a real number one’

Simona Halep feels a different player and person than 12 months ago. The Romanian player now holds one Grand Slam title, the 2018 French Open, and she is still at the first ranking position. Speaking ahead of the Australian Open on Saturday, Halep said: ‘It’s a big difference I can say inside myself because I did what I wanted to do.

I won a Grand Slam finally. 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 see how good I can be in the future.’ On splitting with Darren Cahill, who had to step away due to personal reasons, Halep added: ‘For me, it’s a little bit tough to change the person I’m working every day because I get attached to the people, to my team.

I cannot change fast. 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 a coach. So maybe in the close future, I will have someone. But for the moment, I’m just by myself.’ Halep feels in great shape mentally although she dealt with a back injury for months and lost to Ashleigh Barty in the Sydney International opening round match.

‘I am motivated. But is a little bit different because last year I had about 10, 15 matches before Melbourne – now I have only one, and I lost it. I took the risk of staying home a little bit longer. I rested because I felt like I’m exhausted after those tournaments and also the year that I had.

I enjoyed the time home a lot. Now I feel refreshed to start the year, but still, I am a little bit back with everything, preparation and matches. But I don’t complain. Everything was how I wanted. So now I have just to put my head down and to go and work’, concluded Halep.

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