World No.2 Simona Halep admits being “scared” when her achilles injury flares up, but is determined to find out how far she can push it.
The Romanian dynamo overcame the pain barrier in a gritty 6-4 2-6 6-1 victory over streaky Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia to advance to the quarter-finals at the Sydney International on Tuesday night.
Halep, who was a late withdrawal from Brisbane last week due to her problematic ankle, called for a medical timeout at the end of the second set after complaining of more pain.
But the former French Open finalist said the aches had subsided in the third set, where she eventually dismantled Garcia with a powerful array of groundstrokes.
As for trying to resolve her achilles, however, she was dumbfounded.
“When you have pain you always get scared because you don’t know what is going to happen,” she said.
“I felt actually yesterday during the practice same thing. Five minutes pain, five minutes without pain.
“I don’t know exactly what this is. MRI showed that I have just an inflammation and I can keep playing, so I will do my best and I will try to be there, to stay focused.”
Halep, 24, rejected any thoughts of preserving her body for next week’s grand slam in Melbourne, and instead concentrated on seeing how much far she could push the pain barrier.
“I needed matches to see if I can stay during the match until the end with my achilles,” she said.
“I did well today. I’m happy that I could finish. I am happier that in the third set I didn’t feel the pain. It means that I can keep working and keep playing with tough opponents.”
Halep next matches up against 2015 runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the final eight, who was defeated in both meetings between the pair last year.
“I know how she plays so I know what I have to do on court. Every match is different, so I have to do my game, to try to do like I did today: smart, aggressive, open the court,” she said.
“I just want to go to have one more match. I need matches now. This is the beginning of the year, so it’s okay. I want just to feel healthy on court and to try everything I can.”