She’s been one of the best players in world tennis for the past two years, but Romanian Simona Halep knows that will count for little if she can’t secure a maiden grand slam crown.
The world No.2, a quarter-finalist at the past two Australian Opens, has won 11 career WTA titles but her best grand slam performance remains a final appearance at the 2014 French Open.
Halep, who has teamed up with Australian coach Darren Cahill for 2016, says it’s obvious landing a grand slam is her goal for the year.
“I believe that I have chances, but I have to work hard,” Halep said.
“I have to be concentrated for what I have to do, to be relaxed, because if I’m relaxed I know I can play better tennis.
“I feel that I can, but still I have to stay relaxed and to enjoy.”
Halep will get a good indication of how realistic her hopes of winning this year’s Australian Open are during the Brisbane International.
The women’s top seed is likely to face former world No.1 and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in the second round while defending champion Maria Sharapova looms as a potential semi-final opponent.
A former junior semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, Halep says while the clay of Paris remains her favourite grand slam destination, Australia is somewhere she feels she can succeed too.
“I like the court. They are different a little bit. They are faster now,” she said.
“It’s much better for me now because I have a fast game. I like to be close to the ball. I like to run on court.
“I feel good in Australia. Now I’m part of Aussie, no? Because I have an Australian coach? I feel good here.”