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January 17, 2019

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

S. HALEP/S. Kenin

6-3, 6-7, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Now that you've had a little bit of time since you walked off the court, do you have an idea of how you won that match?
SIMONA HALEP: I just come from an ice bath. I'm cold a little bit (smiling).

My thoughts are mixing. But I think I fought, and I fought hard, and that's why I could win tonight. It was a very tough one. She's very solid. Was really tough to make some winners, some points, easier.

But I think the level was very high. I missed some balls. I couldn't play the same at the 3-0, 4-0 game, that I lost that game. Then I went a little bit down with the confidence.

But in the end, I won. It's all that matters.

Q. You mentioned an injury. Is it the back again or something else?
SIMONA HALEP: No. The leg a little bit, the muscle. In the second set I felt it. But it's because I'm tired. I think is nothing dangerous. We'll see tomorrow morning.

Q. After the Kanepi match, how difficult was it to recover? That's something that you've needed to kind of learn what your body is going to do at this point.
SIMONA HALEP: Very difficult. That night I couldn't sleep at all. I had pain in my legs. It was tough. I knew is going to be tough because she's hitting so hard. I don't like to play that kind of game.

But, you know, I had one day between, it was great. So today I felt better and I was ready to play another match.

Q. Can you look ahead to Venus.
SIMONA HALEP: Not tonight, please (laughter).

Q. Just a little.
SIMONA HALEP: A little, okay (smiling).

Tough one. But for sure I'm not going to run that much. Because it's going to finish fast, the points. She's a great player, champion. It's always a big challenge for me to face the sisters.

So we will see how I will play, how I'm going to be on court. But I will be confident because I played against her, I know how she plays. I have to be strong.

Q. How do you react when someone does exactly what you do?
SIMONA HALEP: Actually, I don't realize how she's playing, if we play similar, because I don't see myself how I'm playing.

She's very solid. She's running a lot. She hits the ball strong. Not that powerful, but still strong. She has a good timing, good touch. I think she's a great player, and she will have a good future.

Q. In the third set down 2-4, you looked dazed, out of breath, out of step. You still found a way to fight. Is it instinct? Do you just naturally fight? Are you thinking, making yourself fight harder?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I have this inside myself. Previous years I gave up a lot during the matches. Now I have maybe one, two years that I changed that thing. That's why maybe I'm where I am now.

I like to fight till the end and to play with no regrets. After the matches, if I don't give up, I feel happy, even if I lose the match. So everything I have in my mind is just to stay there for every point and to play it 100%.

Q. Last year was a tough Australian Open for you. Are there flashbacks from last year even though the circumstances are different?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I hope not. I hope it's going to be less stressful than last year. But still I have the confidence from the last year. I feel, like, ready to play three hours every day, even if I'm not 100% prepared for this tournament. Day by day I'm getting better. It's everything that matters. I will take it as a positive every tough match.

Q. You don't start the year as the in-form player, especially coming into Melbourne. Now you seem like you're right up there as the No. 1 player ready to fight, doing your thing. When did it change? When did you think that you started feeling that way? Was it in your first round or today?
SIMONA HALEP: I still don't feel it, so...

It's something natural on court. When I'm stepping on the court, I want to win the match, so everything I have in my head is that. I just wait and see during the matches. I cannot say, I'm going to win this match. I have not said, and I will never say. Every match is tough, every opponent is working hard like me. It's open, every match we play.

I just go there and trying to be positive.

Q. With the match against Barty, then a week of practice, then going in and seeing maybe the draw you did have with Kanepi and Kenin, Venus, potentially Serena...
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't know I play against Venus (smiling).

Q. Could you have expected at the time to make the third round, given where your head was at, where your confidence was before the tournament began?
SIMONA HALEP: So-and-so. I can say I had a feeling that even if I didn't have so many matches before the tournament, I have a chance, because the tennis was there, even with Barty. Even if I lost that match, I felt that I played a good level of tennis.

But also I thought that it's going to be tough to win against Kanepi because of all the reasons. But also I had in my mind that she didn't play since US Open, so we were in the same position.

But I didn't think that much about the result, to be honest. I just went with the flow, and I tried just not to giving up.

Q. They say the secret to a slam is playing yourself into form. Do you feel with two tough rounds that you're playing yourself into form? Would you much rather it be like a normal tournament where it's a lot quicker?
SIMONA HALEP: Of course, I would prefer normal tournament quicker. But also these matches are good for me at the beginning of the year to get the rhythm, to get the energy back, to see that I am able to stay there for two hours, more than two hours.

It's never easy to play long matches. I will try to recover. I will try to relax a little bit, then to think about the third round. Every win is important at this stage. Even more in a Grand Slam.

I'm just a positive person now and I'm trying to be happy.

Q. Coming into the tournament with the No. 1 ranking, do you feel like an extra sense of pressure on you to perform? Does that motivate you even more?
SIMONA HALEP: No pressure at all. As I said few days ago, the ranking doesn't matter anymore. Many players are playing well. I finished two years No. 1. Is not about the pressure. Is a positive thing that I am still No. 1.

I'm trying just to enjoy it. Is nothing bad in this position.

Q. Over the weekend when you were able to do a few practices with Darren either on the court or when he talked to you during the changeover during the Pliskova practice, were there any special words or something you needed to hear from him that maybe changed your mindset a little bit before the tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: Everything he says is a special thing for me. He told me many things. He told me that I have just to stay strong with my head because I don't have the tennis legs yet, so it's going to come. Today actually I talked to him. He told me that I'm crazy. I knew that, but yeah (smiling). Coming from him, it's a little bit more important.

He always gives me good advice. I listen to him. I think I will listen to him forever.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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