Saturday, 17 August, 2019

'Stressed' Halep survives dramatic Open date with Destanee

Caroline Wozniacki is dreaming of returning to tennis's No.1 spot for the first time in six years Caroline Wozniacki is dreaming of returning to tennis's No.1 spot for the first time in six years
Shannon Reynolds | 17 January, 2018, 17:06

WORLD No.1 Simona Halep has relied on her coach for intelligence on first-round opponent Destanee Aiava, having seen little of the rising Melbourne teenager.

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.

Veteran Venus Williams could see this as her chance to notch up an eighth Grand Slam, and the number two seed will be looking to go one better from a year ago, when she lost to her sister in the final.

The 26-year-old Halep is scheduled to play against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard for a place in the third round.

The American says she was "super-close" to returning from maternity leave at Melbourne Park, and is once again likely to be a formidable foe in Paris, Wimbledon and NY.

"I had a little injury, I don't know how it is". "But I'm not doing everything for this reason".

And she claimed she felt no extra pressure to win a first Grand Slam, despite rising expectations with defending champion Serena Williams ruled out after the birth of her first child. "I have to do also the same game".

Stephens playing her way from the side courts of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium over the course of two weeks (in a year in which she fell so low in the rankings that she was concerned about whether she'd have exemptions for future tournaments) was a great story.

"It's nice to be in this position, for my experience, for everything", she said. "It's really, really nice".

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"I did three-and-a-half hours of press", she said of how she spent her time immediately after winning the US Open. "I feel myself more or less playing well". "I feel ready to start", she said.

Her form suggests she is going to be tough to beat throughout the first grand slam of the year and she will be using this match to check on her form after a week training.

Basically, I'm no longer prepared to do all the one-percenters you need to do to be a success and because of that, I have chose to call it quits at the end of this month.

Stephens came out of nowhere to win the U.S. Open past year after a lengthy time out with an injury to her left foot. I am more relaxed. I just sometimes try to change something in my game, to adjust, to improve. The top players are easily taken care of in this regard, but the players ranked 90 or lower can really use a few match wins to give their careers a measure of financial and structural security.

The top seed is adamant she is more at ease with her pursuit for a maiden major title."I am more relaxed".

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

"I respect all of my fellow players, colleagues, their lifestyles", Stephens finally admitted when pressed. "Everyone does what they want", added the Romanian.

"So it's not easy, but I'm just going to go out there and do my thing". Everyone owns their lives. That's that. I love all of my girls, everyone that I play with on a day-to-day basis. [It] has nothing to do with me. "I played ideal tennis, like I never stopped".

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