World No.2 Simona Halep admits she’ll have to nurse her hurting ankle through the rest of the Australian summer as the world’s best continue to battle injuries ahead of the opening grand slam of 2016.
The Romanian dynamo was forced to withdraw from last week’s Brisbane International but the US Open semi-finalist is determined to get some much-needed court time in this week’s tournament in Sydney.
“It’s difficult to know that you will be injured when you come to Australia. To me it happened this year,” she said on Sunday.
“I was not happy but we have to accept it.”
While the ankle had shown considerable improvement in recent days, Halep said she was eager to test the injury under match pressure ahead of Melbourne.
The 24-year-old, who recently teamed up with new coach Darren Cahill, has a bye in the first round in Sydney before meeting either world No.29 Kristina Mladenovic or No.34 Caroline Garcia.
“The problem is still there but now I don’t feel pain anymore,” she said.
“So I have to see during the official match, because it’s much different. It’s not easy but I have to be positive (so) I don’t have to be scared when I go to play official match.”
While a grand slam title continues to evade Halep, she says the appointment of Cahill has improved her game.
“I have changed some things in my game and I feel better now. I feel stronger and (think) that I have many more ways to play tennis now,” she said.
Halep joins a number of Australian Open contenders currently fighting injuries, including world No.1 Serena Williams (knee), No.3 Garbine Muguruza (foot) and No.4 Maria Sharapova (forearm).
Defending Sydney champion Petra Kvitova also withdrew from the tournament on opening day, citing illness.