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Grand Slam title in Simona Halep’s sights at Australian Open

After becoming world number one in October, Australian Open top seed Simona Halep only has one goal left – winning a Grand Slam.

tennis Updated: Jan 13, 2018 18:36 IST
Omnisport
Omnisport
Melbourne
Simona Halep,Australian Open,tennis
Romanian tennis star Simona Halep smiles during a press conference of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday.(AP)

Simona Halep achieved one of her career goals in becoming world number one in October, and now the Romanian is keen to claim another by winning the Australian Open.

Halep missed the chance to become number one on a couple of occasions in 2017 but eventually reached the summit with victory over Jelena Ostapenko at the China Open semi-finals in Beijing.

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She remained there at the end of the year and has started 2018 well by winning the Shenzhen Open in the build up to the year’s first grand slam.

Claiming a major title has continued to elude Halep in her career, the 26-year-old having lost two French Open finals and reached the last four at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.

Halep hopes to change that in Melbourne, where she will go in as top seed.

“Of course, I want to stay at the top as long as possible,” she told a media conference. “But I’m not doing everything for this reason.

“I have one more goal: to win a grand slam. But now I’m focusing on my game. I really want to get better and to improve in what I had less good.”

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Heading into the tournament as the world’s highest ranked player brings a new pressure, but Halep insists it will not faze her at Melbourne Park.

“It’s nice to be in this position, for my experience, for everything,” she added. “It’s really, really nice. I don’t feel pressure. I feel okay. I feel fit. I feel ready to start.

“Every time is tough every match of a grand slam. Nothing changes that I’m number one or number two or number three. I’m just looking forward to start the tournament and to give the best.

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“I started the year better. I am more relaxed. I’m enjoying more the time on court. I just sometimes try to change something in my game, to adjust, to improve. So my focus is on other stuff now than the ranking or to win the match.”

As top seed Halep can expect to play most of her matches on the main show court in Melbourne, a stadium that is embroiled in controversy over its name.

WTA legend Billie Jean King has called for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed over her contemporary’s views on homosexuality.

Halep is keen to not get involved with the discussion, though, and will play wherever she is told by tournament organisers.

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“First, I respect everyone. Everyone does what they want,” added the Romanian. “I’m not going comment about this. Everyone owns their lives.

“About playing on court, I will play everywhere I am scheduled on. The tournament decides these things. [It] has nothing to do with me. But if I would be scheduled on Margaret Court, I will play on Margaret Court.”

First Published: Jan 13, 2018 18:36 IST