World number three Simona Halep recently pulled out of the Sydney tournament due to gastroenteritis, but if she's back near full fitness the Romanian has to be considered a major contender for the Australian Open.
Halep has had a great start to the year by collecting her 9th career title in China. She admitted that she started feeling ill in China. If she recovers in time to participate in the first grand slam of the year, her tenacity and consistency may be rewarded with a maiden Grand Slam title.
The 23-year-old has shown incredible progression since 2013, where she climbed 36 places to end in the year ranked number 11 in the world. Last year she made her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, with further strides on the cards this year.
One to watch in 2015
At the French Open she reached the final, which she has stated had surpassed her own expectations. In what can only be described as one of the best women's finals at Roland Garros for many years she lost to the more experienced Russian Maria Sharapova in 3 pulsating sets.
Halap speaks with confidence about her game because she has a game to match that confidence. She moves very well and is rarely caught off balance or out of position.
Ready to make the breakthrough?
On the grass at SW19 she reached the semi-finals and lost to another rising star Eugenie Bouchard from Canada.
At her first WTA finals in Singapore she beat Serena Williams convincingly in the round-robin stage. She progressed to the final but succumbed to the world number 1, who avenged her round robin drubbing.
Halep is in the same half of the draw as Bouchard and Sharapova, if she is fully fit and can stand the heat in Australia, few would argue that she would be a worthy Australian Open champion.
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