Halep not intimidated by Serena anymore

Ahead of their fourth-round clash at the Australian Open, Simona Halep says she is not intimidated by Serena Williams anymore.

Simona Halep trails Serena Williams 8-1 in the head-to-head meetings.   -  Getty Images

Simona Halep no longer feels intimidated about facing Serena Williams and the Australian Open top seed is ready for the challenge of taking on the 23-time grand slam champion in Melbourne.

Halep booked her fourth-round berth with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Serena's sister Venus on Saturday, the world number one cruising through in 77 minutes.

Victory sets up a 10th meeting with Williams and first since the 2016 US Open, when the American recorded a fourth successive win over Halep.

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Halep – who trails 8-1 in the head-to-head meetings – admitted she used to be intimidated by Williams, but she is now ready to take on the former world number one.

"She was [intimidating] when I was younger, but now I don't feel intimidated any more," she told a media conference.

"I have huge respect for her because she's a great champion, but she's just an opponent next round."

 

When pushed further on what she will need to do to oust Williams next week, Halep said: "It's going to be huge challenge for me.

"It's always great to play against Serena because every time I have to learn something from the match.

"I think I have to play similar [to her performance against Venus], if I can. I have to be smart, aggressive. I have to move her and give my best. I will not super think about this because is nothing to think, just go there and play natural and with confidence.

"I'm used to this pressure. I'm used to face her. I'm in a good position. I feel confident. I played very well. But doesn't mean is going to be the same against her. I will wait. I will focus on myself. Is the most important thing. I will see what is going to happen on court."

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Halep has had a difficult start to 2019's first grand slam with matches against Kaia Kanepi and Sofia Kenin before facing the Williams sisters back-to-back, and she says she has never had such a challenging first week at a grand slam.

She added: "Definitely [this] is the toughest draw I've ever had. Second, like I said many times, it's a huge challenge. Every time I face the sisters is a big challenge for me. I just want to try to play my best tennis because I have nothing to lose against them."