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January 12, 2019

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How does it feel to be back here? You had such an emotional tournament here last year.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's always great to come back here. It's a nice tournament, with great memories from last year it's even better.

I feel good. I practiced very well these days. I'm looking forward actually to start it. But I have three more days, so I will chill another day, then I will start to be focused for what I have to do during the match.

Q. Do you feel any different sitting there now to one year ago, now that you have already won a Grand Slam?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it's big difference I can say inside myself because I did what I wanted to do. I won a Grand Slam finally. Now I can say I'm a real No. 1. Before I said without a Grand Slam, you are not a real No. 1.

I'm happy. I'm enjoying the time. Everything I've done last year made me be more relaxed. I try just to improve more in my game and seeing how good I can be in the future.

Q. What was your thinking not replacing Darren immediately? Was it that there was not the right person at the right time or did you just want to see how it would go for three or four months without a coach?
SIMONA HALEP: For me it's a little bit tough to change the person I'm working every day because I get attached to the people, to my team. I cannot change fast. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to feel that I'm ready to take another challenge.

Every time you commit to someone in your team, you have to give 100%. So I was not ready in the off-season. Now I'm feeling that I'm getting better. As I say always, at this level it is impossible without coach. So maybe in the close future I will have someone. But for the moment, I'm just by myself.

Q. We saw how hungry you were to win last year. Now that you have a Grand Slam, do you feel just as motivated coming into this tournament?
SIMONA HALEP: I am motivated. But is a little bit different because last year I had about 10, 15 matches before Melbourne, now I have only one, which I lost it.

I took the risk staying home little bit longer. I rested because I felt like I'm exhausted after those tournaments and also the year that I had. I enjoyed the time home a lot. Now I feel refreshed to start the year, but still I am a little bit back with everything, preparation and matches.

But I don't complain. Everything was how I wanted. So now I have just to put my head down and to go and work.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw your first-round draw?
SIMONA HALEP: You really want to know (smiling)? Darren actually send me because he did the draw, send me a message.

I was at Nike taking my new shoes. When I saw the message, I was like, Okay, whatever. I just enjoy the moment with the shoes, then I'll think about the match (smiling). That's it.

Q. Can you talk a little bit in general about how you view the relationship between players and umpires.
SIMONA HALEP: Players and umpires? Well, I never had a problem with the umpires. You get upset during the match. The frustration comes out. But I never had a fight with someone.

I know that you cannot change their, like, decision, so I cannot fight. It's not my style to fight with them. But now we have also the Hawk-Eye, so I think it's better. It's relaxed.

Q. Do you feel like they're a colleague and part of the tour at all?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I feel good with them. It's nice. I say hello to everyone. I talk sometimes. For me, are good people. The fact that they are there with us on court means a lot.

Q. In other sports players, the coaches are decided for players in team sports, whereas you decide everything about your team, the people you want to work with. What's the toughest part about being the boss, making these big decisions?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I don't like to be the boss in my team. Everyone is equal because I feel like if you have this attitude is much better. If I take someone, means that I need that person. I took that person because I need to learn some things.

I see the things like that. I don't want to be the boss and I will never be the boss. But when I feel something, I say. I have learned in these years that you have to express yourself and to say how you feel.

That people can help you in those moments.

Q. In the past, was that difficult then?
SIMONA HALEP: In the past was more difficult because I couldn't talk, I couldn't express myself. But now I'm on a different level, and I know some things better.

Q. This time yesterday Andy Murray sat in the chair that you're in and told us that he was going to need to finish playing this year at Wimbledon if not before. He's somebody maybe a little similar to you, dealt with us very straightforwardly, took him a while to win his first Grand Slam, but got there. How do you reflect on the news about Andy Murray retiring?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I read yesterday. I had a knot in my stomach. It's not easy to see a great player retiring because of the injuries actually. He was struggling a lot these years.

I always admired him. I had chance to talk to him few times because of Darren. He's a great person. Little bit crazy on court, but I like that because I'm similar (smiling).

He did everything he could. He worked so hard in the gym, as well. It's really sad that the tour, it will miss him, because for sure we will miss him. It's tough to see a great champion retiring. But life goes on and I'm sure he's happy.

Q. What did you talk about when you spoke to him?
SIMONA HALEP: Normal stuff, about tournaments, about tennis, nothing special.

Q. How is your back? Are you 100%?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I was 100% in the last match. I feel okay. I feel healthy. But you never know with the back. So we will see.

Q. Looking back on the final last year, you lost to Caroline Wozniacki. You lead 4-3 in the third game. Have you thought about this moment since? Was Wozniacki's decision the key to her win the match?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I didn't want to think that much about that match because was really painful to lose it. But I learned some things from that match. That break broke me a little bit that moment. Now I know how to manage better if that happens again.

She was better at that moment and maybe fresher than me because I played so many long matches before. She was actually less tired than me. She deserved to win that match. She was stronger. I was not very upset about that, I just gave everything I had, and that was my limit in that match.

Q. It was fair enough for Wozniacki to take the break?
SIMONA HALEP: The rule is like that, so it was fair.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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