Halep back on the job at Melbourne Park

Nick Mulvenney
·2-min read
Yarra Valley Classic

By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Simona Halep has come close to winning the Australian Open on a couple of occasions and although she does not want to dwell too much on what might have been, it does encourage her to believe that she can go deep in the tournament again.

Halep, who boasts French Open and Wimbledon titles in her Grand Slam collection, lost the 2018 Australian Open final to Caroline Wozniacki and fell at the penultimate hurdle last year with a semi-final loss to Garbine Muguruza.

"I have the results in my head every time I come here. I always think if I did it once, or twice, I have the possibility to do it again," the 29-year-old Romanian told reporters a couple of days out from her 12th Australian Open.

"But I don't want to think that much because I put pressure on myself and I expect maybe too much sometimes. I will take as a normal tournament, an important one, of course."

That pragmatic outlook permeated Halep's news conference and the second seed returned to the theme when asked how, in a sport where consistency is at a premium, she had remained in the world's top 10 for seven years.

"I think I've been very focused on my job, because I call it a job. It is a job in my head. I get pleasure from it, but it's a job," she said.

"In the last five, seven years, I can say in a part that it is a job, but also I have the passion that keeps me alive in this sport."

After two weeks of quarantine in Adelaide -- "For me, it was OK" -- Halep got back to work this week with two wins in the Gippsland Trophy before crashing out to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

In the first round of the Grand Slam on Monday or Tuesday, Halep said she would be entirely focused on her first career meeting with Australian world number 140 Lisette Cabrera.

"It's a big challenge the first round everywhere ... I will train a little bit what I have to do against her," she added.

"I am centred. I'm focused on what I have to do, but I'm not thinking that much about the chances that I have here."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)