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January 19, 2019

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

S. HALEP/V. Williams

6-2, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk about what your mindset was going into the match and tactically what you wanted to do out there.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I thought about the match in Montreal. I knew that she was injured back then, but I knew I have to play similar tennis, fast, quick, to stay very close to the baseline, which I did great today. Also to serve well because she returns pretty strong. She stays into the court and takes the return very fast.

Yeah, I think I played smart, aggressive, and also I moved her a lot, so I think that's why I could win.

Q. Venus said you played flawless, you served well. From a strategic side, without having a coach in place, is this all your thinking or are you talking to people from the outside?
SIMONA HALEP: As I said, Darren is next to me these days. I don't have a coach. He cannot come to my box because he's not my coach officially. But he's helping me. I really appreciate that.

I have the Fed Cup captain here, one more coach from Romania. I have a lot of support. I don't feel alone. It's a good atmosphere in my team. I really take it as a big positive.

Q. We could see on our screens before the match you were talking to Laura before the match, very relaxed. Is this normal for you?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really. Not really very normal. As I said, many things changed in myself, inside myself. I try just to enjoy more the life, to be more relaxed, which I'm doing pretty well, and I feel much better.

I think I will keep doing it.

Q. Were you like this earlier in the week or did the tough wins give you that?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I've been like this since I finished the season last year. I changed some things in my head and I feel good.

Q. The next match, what do you think will be key for you against Serena? How much of what you were just talking about, the mental side of things, will be important?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's a bit different because I only beat her once in my life, so I cannot say much about this match. Just that it's going to be huge challenge for me. It's always great to play against Serena because every time I have to learn something from the match.

I think I have to play similar, if I can. I have to be smart, aggressive. I have to move her and give my best. I will not super think about this because is nothing to think, just go there and play natural and with confidence.

Q. Can you remember the circumstances of your win over Serena? Can you remember what you didn't do right when you lost?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I remember those matches. First one I played like today: fast and aggressive. In the final at 3-1 there in first set, I lost the confidence and I went very back, I went very far on the court, and I couldn't touch the ball any more. She was dominating the match.

I played many times against her. We had also tough matches together. So it's going to be just a huge match for me. I will not put pressure on myself. There's a good chance for me to play my best tennis and to feel good on court.

Q. Is she an intimidating opponent?
SIMONA HALEP: She was when I was younger, but now I don't feel intimidated any more. I have huge respect for her because she's a great champion, but she's just an opponent next round.

Q. People talk about Serena still being maybe the best player on tour. She doesn't play a full schedule. You're obviously officially the best player in the world at No. 1. How do you measure where Serena would rank in an imagine ranking?
SIMONA HALEP: In my opinion, to be No. 1 in the world and to be the best player in the world, it's a little bit different. In this moment, I'm No. 1 in the world, so I will take that. I feel like I have been there many months, many weeks.

But for sure she's the best player in the world because she won so many Grand Slams. She's been a lot on No. 1. I cannot compare my results to her. But in this moment, I am confident that I am in this position, and I'm positive about it.

Q. We haven't seen much of Serena, only eight tournaments since she came back. Do you think she's vulnerable or more beatable since having the layoff? Do you think playing full-time gives you an advantage?
SIMONA HALEP: For sure is not easy if you play less tournaments. But she has enough experience to handle every moment of the matches. So I don't believe she's vulnerable because of that.

I didn't play against her since she came back, so I don't know what to say about this. She's a very tough opponent every time.

Q. What would it mean to beat the Williams sisters back-to-back at a major?
SIMONA HALEP: I will not think about that. Let's wait the match. If it will happen, then I can say something.

Q. You said you are not intimidated by Serena any more.
SIMONA HALEP: I lost too many times against her, so I got used to it (smiling). No, I'm joking.

Q. Is that because you know you are good enough to compete against her or simply you are used to her kind of pressure?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I'm used to this pressure. I'm used to face her. I'm in a good position. I feel confident. I played very well today. But doesn't mean is going to be the same against her.

I will wait. I will focus on myself. Is the most important thing. I will see what is going to happen on court.

Q. You said you didn't want to talk about what it would be like to beat them back-to-back. What is it like to play them back-to-back?

Q. What does it feel like for you, especially at a Grand Slam, to play them back-to-back?
SIMONA HALEP: Definitely is the toughest draw I've ever had. Second, like I said many times, it's a huge challenge. Every time I face the sisters is a big challenge for me. I just want to try to play my best tennis because I have nothing to lose against them.

Q. You've worn three different versions of your kit. Do you enjoy the fact that you can wear different versions?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I enjoy. I have no reason. I just wanted to change. I had from Nike three versions. Now I will think the fourth match that I will play.

Q. Why do you have nothing to lose against Serena?
SIMONA HALEP: Because, as I said, she's a great champion. She's a very tough opponent. I have a huge respect for her. It's always nice to face her because I have to learn many things.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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