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January 25, 2018

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

S. HALEP/A. Kerber

6-3, 4-6, 9-7

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Another long one. What's your confidence level right now? What's your tiredness level?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, the confidence is very high. Also, the fact that I'm really tired is normal because I played so many matches. I spent so many hours on court.

But, you know, I'm happy. In this moment doesn't matter anything. Just the fact that I won this match and I can play the final again.

Q. Do you remember any other situation where you saved match points with two different opponents in the same tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I don't remember, and definitely not during a Grand Slam (smiling).

Q. You already made history. You're the first Romanian lady in the Australian Open final. How do you feel?
SIMONA HALEP: I feel great. I feel nice that it's happening. I play another final. Is the third one. Maybe is with luck. We'll see Saturday.

I feel happy. I feel proud that I could stay there and fight till the end. So it's a nice feeling. I'm looking forward for the last match of this tournament.

Q. This I think is the first time you have played a Grand Slam with, like, the No. 1 ranking and No. 1 seeding next to your name. Has that been a factor how you approach matches? Have you thought about that at all? You are the No. 1 seed of this tournament. Does that add any kind of confidence or belief or is it not a factor?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't believe it's gonna affect me, and for the moment is not affecting me. It's just another match, a tough one, for sure, will be.

I was in this position in French Open, so maybe I can make a better match. I can make just, make it more relaxed, and taking like a normal match. I don't want to think about the result as I did during this tournament, and was a great feeling going on court just to fight for the balls, for the games, and not for the match. Just step by step.

Q. You've spoken about how relaxed Australians are and the effect of Darren Cahill as a coach. How much has that affected how you have approached tense games like this?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it's helping me a lot this way to think and to be on court. It's not easy, because I was a little bit too negative before, so I'm trying to change that. I changed already, but I need to work on it more. I want to improve more, and for sure, if I will be focused on this thing, I will be much better in the future.

Q. You hit 50 winners today.
SIMONA HALEP: A lot, eh? (Smiling.) My brother just wrote me. I cannot believe, actually.

But I was aggressive. I had this in my mind, and I wanted to finish the points quicker, but was not that easy with her. She's moving very well.

Q. Is the first time you made so many winners in a single match?
SIMONA HALEP: I think so, yeah. And I hope is not the last (smiling).

Q. When you got to 6-6, what was going through your mind in the decider?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't remember, but I didn't think about the score. I just took point by point. I had actually two moments when I felt that the match was over. I have no power anymore and everything is gone.

But I served pretty well in the service games, and then I got confident again. And like I said, I didn't give up, which meant a lot, and that's how I won the match.

Q. On the second match point you saved you looked at your coach and you were laughing. Do you remember?
SIMONA HALEP: I smiled. I said, Maybe I can do it again. In my mind.

Yeah, I think helped me a little bit to relax and to take it like it is. I didn't put pressure on myself, and I think it was a good timing.

Q. Last Tuesday when you had hurt your ankle after the first round and you were in your hotel with this ankle hurting, would you have ever thought you'd still be at this tournament 10 days later?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I didn't believe that, because it was pretty bad. You know, it's similar to French Open. Of course, different a little bit, but close.

So I'm in the final again. We will see what is gonna happen. I just got confidence after that match that I could continue and win it, the first round, and that's why maybe I believed that my ankle will be fine during all the matches.

Q. During the match today, did you have any impressions or thoughts about Angelique Kerber or you just focus on yourself all the time?
SIMONA HALEP: Focus on myself, for sure. But also I was thinking how to play her to finish the points quicker. She was returning every single ball. And at 4-3 in the second set when I had break point, that ball, when it touched the line, got me down a little bit.

But still, I know that she's a fighter. So I knew I have to stay there and to just to keep the balance between fighting and also controlling myself.

Q. Caroline is also going for a first Grand Slam, a similar opponent to Angelique. What do you expect there to how you approach that match at all?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't want to change anything. It's a normal match. Similar, actually, like today. I play many times against her. I have to work. I'm ready for it. For sure it's a big challenge. Maybe the biggest one, because all the things that were going on this tournament, first Grand Slam of the year, first final here.

So I take it like a nice thing and with good thoughts. Nothing else.

Q. When you were facing two match points, what were you thinking? Did you try to read her serve or thinking about tactics or just try to focus on every single ball?
SIMONA HALEP: I try to hit the ball. Not to be scared that I am two match balls down.

And I think I played pretty well those balls. I was not afraid of losing, so maybe that's why I was -- I won those balls, and then I got the confidence back that I'm still alive and I can do it.

Q. Becoming No. 1 is an incredible achievement. What would it mean to you to be a Grand Slam champion?
SIMONA HALEP: Bigger than No. 1, honestly (smiling).

It's also my dream, to win a Grand Slam title. But, you know, it's always tough when you are close. I had this opportunity two times. The last one was very close.

Maybe Saturday I will be better. You never know. But if I make it again, the final, looks like I have enough power to redo this result, and if it's not gonna happen Saturday, I will stay strong and I will keep, you know, thinking and dreaming for others.

Q. How is the ankle holding up? 26-shot rally, I think it was on break point...
SIMONA HALEP: I couldn't think anymore. I didn't think about the ankle at that moment. About breathing, for sure. But now the right foot is a little bit worse, because I push everything on it. So it's tough, but I don't want to think about that, to be honest. I just want to give again everything Saturday, and after that I will have a good holiday.

Q. You'll be facing Wozniacki on Saturday. You have met several times. The last three times you have lost, the latest in Singapore in two straight sets. What makes Wozniacki such a difficult opponent?
SIMONA HALEP: The way she's playing, she's not missing. She's running very well. So she's a strong opponent.

I played many times, yeah, like you said. I won against her few times.

It's going to be a different match, new match, a tough one. Emotions are there. Pressures are there for both of us.

We'll see what is gonna happen. I cannot say anything else about it.

Q. Is that the big difference, that you're not afraid of losing anymore?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it's a bit of a good feeling, and also confidence, extra confidence, and the result doesn't matter anymore. Like I said, this tournament didn't matter and helped me a lot this way of thinking.

Q. Not to bring back bad memories from Roland Garros, but how different a person do you feel compared to...
SIMONA HALEP: I feel more experienced. Also stronger mentally. And the way I play, it's different. I feel I'm more aggressive. I did 50 winners (smiling). Eight aces, if you can imagine. My coach told me.

It's different, and I hope to keep this also Saturday.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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