With most female tennis superstars currently training and competing in Australia, the countdown to the first Grand Slam action of the year is on.
One of the women set to participate in the WTA events leading up to the Australian Open is Simona Halep.
The Romanian is preparing for the Melbourne Summer Set, where the likes of Naomi Osaka and Veronika Kudermetova will also be competing.
Ahead of the opening tournaments of 2022, Halep sat down to talk about her fitness levels and mentality as she vies to get her form back on track this year.
“I see tennis [differently] in this stage of my life, and it’s more joy, so I’m more relaxed,” she told WTA Insider. “I don’t put pressure on myself, so I will try to keep that during the matches, which is not easy, but I’m here just to give my best chance, so we will see.”
The 30-year-old rounded off 2021 ranked number 20 in the world — the first time since 2014 she did not end a year inside the top five.
After being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Australian Open by Serena Williams, Halep hit a dip in form.
The Romanian managed to reach just one semi-final out of nine tournaments in the lead up to her performance at the Transylvania Open in October.
Without dropping a single set, Halep secured her place in the Romanian final but was outplayed by eventual champion Anett Kontaveit on home soil.
The two-time Grand Slam winner has set herself the goal of re-establishing herself inside the top ten this year.
“This is the main goal and this is actually the only one goal,” she admitted. “But everything that comes along with it is a bonus and we will see. But the focus is to get back to the top ten.”
At 30, Halep often jokes she is getting on in her tennis career but she has assured she still has plenty left to give to her supporters.
“I thought about it being close to the end, but honestly after this pre-season and how I feel right now at the tournament, I feel like I have a few more years to play.
“My husband is supporting me in that direction, my family as well. My team says I’m still good enough to go there and compete, so I’m not thinking about retirement yet.
“I just want to enjoy and give my best because I know there is another chance.”
Halep will return to the court on Tuesday at the Melbourne Summer Set, where the number two seed will take on a qualifier in the opening round.