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February 6, 2021

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tell us how you're feeling going into the first slam of the year.

SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's exciting to be here. It's exciting to play another Grand Slam. I'm happy to be here in Australia. I always played very well.

I'm looking forward to start it. Hopefully I can play my best tennis.

Q. On your physical preparation, how has that been? How is your body feeling?

SIMONA HALEP: Yesterday I struggled a little bit from the air-conditioning with my low back. The muscle got a little bit blocked. But I did some treatment last night, this morning, so I'm getting better now.

It's nothing dangerous. I'm used to it because it happens when it's that cold. I had it also last year in French Open because it was cold outside. So I'm not very worried, but I'm taking care of it.

Q. You've come so close here in the past. Do you think back to some of those results as you approach a new Australian Open?

SIMONA HALEP: I have the results in my head every time I come here. I always think if I did once, twice, I have the possibility to do it again. But I don't want to think that much because I put pressure on myself and I expect maybe too much sometimes.

I will take as a normal tournament, an important one, of course. But I am centered. I'm focused on what I have to do, but I'm not thinking that much about the chances that I have here.

Q. Who gets more nervous, you or Darren?

SIMONA HALEP: I don't know. But I get nervous every time (smiling).

Q. A question regarding the quarantine. In the French Open you have to stay in the bubble, you're not allowed to go outside. Here you have to do two weeks' quarantine, but after that you have freedom. Which one do you prefer?

SIMONA HALEP: It's a tough question because it's also tough to stay 14 days in quarantine. It's very tough, trust me.

Also to be in the bubble every day, it's not easy. It cannot get out of the hotel. At one point you get exhausted of the room, of the tennis courts, and you need to see people, you need to see something else.

Can we go back to normal and we don't think about this situation any more (laughter)?

Q. How do you expect quarantine to affect some of the top players and their preparation?

SIMONA HALEP: Well, I don't think that it's that bad because we had enough time to get used to the time zone. We had time to get used to Australia, because it's never easy when you come from Europe. Those nine hours are really tough to get into your schedule.

It can be a little bit exhausting, like I said, to stay 14 days, then to start actually the first tournament, then the Open. But depends of every player. I cannot talk for everybody. For me, it was okay. It was a little bit too long to stay 14 days. But I'm good mentally.

Q. Can you describe what has been most challenging for you personally over the year of the pandemic?

SIMONA HALEP: The bubble thing. To stay closed in the hotel room and tennis courts, it was the toughest thing for me.

Q. Why so?

SIMONA HALEP: Because you need to get out. You need the normal life. We are used to walk during the evenings. We are used to go eat at the restaurants. When you cannot do these things and you are waiting the box in the room with the food, it is not easy. It's every day.

Q. One of your fellow competitors coming back to the game after a 15-month absence, Bianca Andreescu, who looked up to you as a kid. What does she bring back to the WTA and in particular to players like you in the top 10 in terms of the level of competition? Are you looking forward to facing her once again?

SIMONA HALEP: Well, she's a great fighter. She never gives up during the matches. She does everything just to win that match, which I admire a lot.

She's very young. She has that courage to not think about the opponent that she has during the matches. She goes for it. She didn't look like she has fear with some players. I think she has a strong mental. Also the strokes are very strong. She's a powerful opponent. Also mentally she's really good.

Q. Looking forward to facing her one more time?

SIMONA HALEP: Of course. Always is a big challenge to play with young players. Like this, I can feel, I can see where my level is.

Q. You face Lizette Cabrera in the first round of the Australian Open. What do you think?

SIMONA HALEP: I don't know her. I didn't play against her. I never played. I don't know how the ball is coming. But I watched a little bit of her game.

It's a big challenge the first round everywhere. I'm very focused. I will train a little bit what I have to do against her. I will just get ready for the match.

Q. With the Australian Open moved back a month, most of us not being there, is it a lot cooler temperature-wise and weather-wise this time around? Maybe not as significantly as Paris, but do you think the different conditions in February in Melbourne will have an impact on the event?

SIMONA HALEP: I have no idea. It's the first time when we play in February, and I don't have that feeling.

I don't feel that big difference. Of course, yeah, was raining a little bit. Looked like it's going to rain. It's a little bit heavy. But I played indoor yesterday, so I didn't like that much.

But I don't believe is going to be a big minus for players.

Q. With the tightness in your back, two days until we play, are you going to have the same training schedule today and tomorrow, or because of everything that you did in Adelaide and in the tournament, do you feel you've had enough court time?

SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I had enough of court time, for sure. I had some matches, which were very good. I will play, I will practice normal today, not a lot, but just to feel the ball. I don't want to have a day off totally from the tennis.

I will not force something. I will just take care of my back. I will just do my best to get ready for Monday or Tuesday.

Q. You've talked recently about how you were in the top 10 for so many years since 2013. That's a very difficult thing to do. What is for you the key to being consistent over a long period?

SIMONA HALEP: I think I've been very focused on my job, because I call it a job. It is a job in my head. Of course, is full of passion and also the pleasure that I have for this sport, but it's a job.

I didn't do anything wrong regard the tennis. I mean, I've been very professional and I think I work hard for what I achieved already.

Q. Have you always considered tennis a job?

SIMONA HALEP: Not always. When I was a kid, it was more fun. It was more like something new every day. But in the last five, seven years, yeah, I can say in a part it is a job, but also I have the passion that keeps me alive in this sport.

Q. There was a video with Serena going around where she was showing off all of her trophies, some of her trophies, in her house. She made a joke there was a second place trophy there she didn't want there. She said, We're going to ignore that. Do you keep your second-place trophies along with your championship trophies or do you also not display them anywhere?

SIMONA HALEP: I display in my parents' house. I have all the trophies there. I don't have in my house in Bucharest because I live in different city. But I keep all together. I like any trophy, doesn't matter which place it is (smiling).

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