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No. 1 Halep has new-found confidence ahead of Aussie Open

Simona Halep was once making an attempt on her new footwear when she were given the inside track direct from the draw about her difficult phase containing each Serena and Venus Williams on the Australian Open.

Even ahead of she contemplates conceivable back-to-back fits within the 3rd and fourth around towards Venus and Serena, top-ranked Halep has to get thru a gap fit towards Kaia Kanepi, who beat her within the first around on the U.S. Open ultimate yr.

Darren Cahill, a TV commentator and Halep’s trainer till lately, texted her with main points of the draw.

“Once I noticed the message, I used to be like, ‘Good enough, no matter,'” she mentioned. “I simply benefit from the second with the footwear, then I will consider the fit. That is it.”

She will be able to do this now that she considers herself a real No. 1. Halep entered ultimate yr with the top-ranking however and not using a primary to her credit score.

After shedding a difficult, three-set ultimate to Caroline Wozniacki on the Australian Open, she in brief misplaced the No. 1 spot however regained it briefly and might be into her 48th consecutive week within the peak spot when the season’s first primary begins. Her leap forward on the French Open gave her all of the affirmation she’d ever wanted.

“It is a large distinction — I will be able to say within myself as a result of I did what I sought after to do. I gained a Grand Slam in the end. Now I will be able to say I am an actual No. 1,” Halep mentioned of the variation between her approaches to this season and to ultimate. “Earlier than I mentioned and not using a Grand Slam, you aren’t an actual No. 1.

“I am satisfied. I am taking part in the time. The entirety I have achieved ultimate yr made me be extra comfy. I take a look at simply to support extra in my recreation.”

Halep misplaced 4 directly fits to complete 2018, hampered via a again harm, and was once crushed via Ashleigh Barty on the Sydney Global to begin this season. However she says her again is okay. She’s additionally and not using a trainer in Melbourne, an appointment she’s taking time to imagine.

U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka looms as a possible semifinal rival for Halep, or Serena Williams, or whoever comes out of the cruel peak quarter.

So much has modified for Osaka since shooting her first primary identify in New York ultimate September, having by no means even reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam match.

Her victory there was once overshadowed to a point via Serena Williams’ conflict with chair umpire Carlos Ramos throughout the overall and next $17,000 positive.

Williams ignored the ultimate Australian Open — she gained right here in 2017 whilst pregnant and was once nonetheless at the sidelines after having her child — however reached two primary finals after returning to tennis. In spite of being seeded 16th, she stays a powerful contender to win her 24th Grand Slam singles identify.

Osaka, in the meantime, is finding out as she is going.

The 21-year-old mentioned she’s somewhat awkward in one-on-one conversations, however feels extra at house answering questions and throwing in one-liners at packed information meetings.

As for her objectives right here, in a ladies’s box that has featured 8 other primary winners around the ultimate two years, Osaka mentioned it is a paintings in growth, beginning together with her first-round towards Magda Linette on Tuesday.

“No person needs to lose within the first around of a Slam,” she mentioned. “From there, I have been within the 3rd around 100 million instances (in truth it is 9 instances) already. That might be my subsequent function. Optimistically semis after that. Then I will be able to consider, like, the finals and successful.”

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Extra AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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