SHOWS: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (JANUARY 12, 2019) (TENNIS AUSTRALIA - FOR NEWS PURPOSES ONLY.
NO RESALES) 1.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN WOMEN'S TOP SEED SIMONA HALEP AT NEWS CONFERENCE 2.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) SIMONA HALEP SAYING: "Well it's always great to come back here, it's a nice tournament and with the great memories from last year it's even better.
I feel good, I practiced very well these days, I'm looking forward actually to start it but I have a few more days so I will chill another day and then I will start to be focused for what I have to do during the match." 3.
WHITE FLASH 4.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) SIMONA HALEP SAYING: "I am motivated but it is a little bit different because last year I had about 10-15 matches before Melbourne, now I have only one which I lost it.
I took the risk 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 enjoy the time home a lot and now I feel refreshed to start the year but still I am a little bit back with everything, preparation, 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." STORY: World number one Simona Halep, flying solo after parting ways with coach Darren Cahill, said she feels refreshed after a long lay-off to recover from a back injury but also concedes she has risked her Australian Open campaign with scant preparations.
French Open champion Halep warmed up for her run to the final at Melbourne Park last year by winning the Shenzhen Open in southern China but has played only one match since September, a 6-4 6-4 defeat to Australia's Ashleigh Barty at the Sydney International on Wednesday.
The top seed said her back had recovered "100 percent" from a herniated disk aggravated at the China Open in September, however, she revealed she was also a bit behind in her preparations for the season.
Her opening shift is a daunting one, against Kaia Kanepi, the same woman who knocked her out of the first round of the U.S. Open.
The shock loss to the unseeded Estonian made Halep the first top seed to fall at the first hurdle at Flushing Meadows.
Her former coach Cahill delivered the news of the re-match by text message after doing the draw at Melbourne Park on Thursday.
"You really want to know?" Halep smiled, after being asked how she reacted.
"I was at Nike taking my new shoes.
When I saw the message, I was like, 'Okay, whatever.
I just enjoy the moment with the shoes, then I'll think about the match'.
That's it." Cahill quit Halep's team for "family reasons" and the Romanian said she would proceed without a coach for the first few months of the season.