Simona Halep admits she's lacking match toughness going into the Australian Open, but says she isn't putting too much pressure on herself.
The world No. 1 finished 2018 sidelined by a back injury, and she currently has no coach following Darren Cahill's decision to take a break from the tour.
Playing her first match of the season, Halep fell in straight sets to Ashleigh Barty at Sydney, her fifth defeat in a row dating back to the final of Cincinnati. The 26-year-old had a mixed view of her performance.
"No, I think it was a great match after almost four months since I played one full match, [at the] US Open. I think I played a good level of tennis. I had no inspiration in some important points," Halep told press at Sydney. "The break, it comes like up, and I can feel that I don't have the rhythm yet."
That has left her unsure of her form going into Melbourne, where she has a tough draw that starts in the first round against Kaia Kanepi, who defeated her in the opening round of the US Open.
"Not really, but I took the risk," Halep said when asked if she had adequate preparation for the tournament. "I took a longer break because I needed it. Also mentally, also physically. That's why I always say because I cannot expect myself to be at the highest level in this moment, because I didn't play matches, but tennis is good, so I have just to believe in myself more."
After winning a Grand Slam and reaching the top spot in the rankings, Halep says she is concentrating more on enjoying the game.
"You know, it's a new beginning, let's say, and I will give myself a chance, a few months, just to 'chill' on court," she said.
On the positive side, she completed her first match with no back problems, saying, "No pain at all. I'm happy about that. It's a great sign."
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