Halep mentally stronger for Melbourne after Paris heartbreak

World number one Simona Halep has experienced pain in grand slam finals, but she feels better prepared to triumph at the Australian Open.

Simona Halep celebrates in Australia   -  Getty Images

Simona Halep believes she is better mentally prepared to break her grand slam duck at the Australian Open than she was at Roland Garros last year.

The world number one put on a gutsy showing to save two match points and beat 2016 champion Angelique Kerber 6-3 4-6 9-7 in a semi-final classic on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

It marks the third time that Halep has reached a major final, with the Romanian having twice finished runner-up at the French Open – including a shock loss to Jelena Ostapenko in 2017.

But, ahead of Saturday's final with Caroline Wozniacki, Halep says she is a different player to the one that lost in Paris.

"I feel more experienced. Also stronger mentally. And the way I play, it's different," she told a news conference. 

"I feel I'm more aggressive. I hit 50 winners. Eight aces, if you can imagine. My coach told me. It's different, and I hope to keep this [mentality] on Saturday.

"It's a bit of a good feeling, and also confidence, extra confidence, and the result doesn't matter anymore."

Halep became world number one last season, but says that achievement would pale in comparison to finally winning a slam after a couple of near misses.

"[It would be] bigger than number one, honestly. It's also my dream, to win a grand slam title," she added.

"But it's always tough when you are close. I had this opportunity two times. The last one was very close. Maybe Saturday I will be better. You never know."

Halep has lost her previous three matches against Wozniacki and trails 4-2 in their career head-to-head, but the 26-year-old insists past meetings will count for little.

"The way she's playing, she's not missing. She's running very well. So, she's a strong opponent," Halep said. 

"I played [against her] many times. I won against her a few times. It's going to be a different match, a new match, a tough one. 

"Emotions are there. Pressures is there for both of us. We'll see what is going to happen."

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