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Simona Halep happy to take a risk in quest to win Open

A wry smile appeared on the face of world No.1 Simona Halep when she was asked how she reacted to the news that for the second consecutive grand slam her first-round opponent was her US Open nemesis Kaia Kanepi.

"You really want to know?" Halep said.

Given Kanepi eliminated the Romanian in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 at their most recent encounter, Halep's reaction was as one would expect.

"I was at Nike taking my new shoes. When I saw the message, I was like, 'OK, whatever'. I [will] just enjoy the moment with the shoes, then I'll think about the match. That's it," Halep said.

Despite her trepidation, Halep can afford to smile more than she could this time last year.
At that stage she did not consider her No.1 ranking to be legitimate as she had not yet won a Grand Slam.

Now, such misgivings have disappeared after she broke through to win the French Open, overcoming Sloane Stephens in three sets after falling one set and a break behind.

It was her fourth Grand Slam final, having shown enormous courage to make last year's Australian Open final before losing a hard-fought match to Caroline Wozniacki.

Simona Halep having a hit at Melbourne Park ahead of the Open. Credit:AAP

The effort took its toll and she was out of Wimbledon in the third round before Kanepi knocked her out of the US Open in the first round.

Halep decided to spend time in Romania and take a long break to recharge the batteries.

It's brought her back to Melbourne nearly as determined the win the title as she was this time last year.

"I am motivated," Halep said.

"I took the risk staying home little bit longer. I rested because I felt like I'm exhausted after those tournaments and also the year that I had.

"I enjoyed the time home a lot. Now I feel refreshed to start the year, but still I am a little bit back with everything, preparation and matches.

"But I don't complain. Everything was how I wanted. So now I have just to put my head down and to go and work."

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