Halep unperturbed by French Open title challengers

There are a number of potential candidates to take Simona Halep's French Open crown, but the defending champion is focused on herself.

Simona Halep won her first Grand Sam title at the French Open last year.   -  Getty Images

Defending champion Simona Halep insists she is not concerned by a crowded field of contenders as she concentrates on herself at the French Open.

Former world number one Halep ended her wait for a first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year, but she has won only one WTA Tour event since.

Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka has won consecutive Grand Slam titles in New York and Melbourne, with Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova excelling in recent clay-court tournaments.

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But Halep's focus is on her own improvement as the third seed prepares for a maiden major defence.

"All of them are very tough opponents, but I don't see my opponents as rivals," the Romanian told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of Hublot.

"I just try to learn from every match I play against them. I lost to Kiki in the final of Madrid, so if I play next time, I just want to be better than that match.

"I see all of my opponents the same so, for me, it's important to focus on myself every time."

Osaka is the world number one coming into the tournament, yet Halep believes rankings count for little at a Grand Slam.

"It matters to have some good matches before, along the road," she said. "But you never know. Every day you can play good tennis, even if you didn't have good matches before.

"For me, the ranking doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you are two, three, one, five. At this tournament, every match is difficult and every opponent is working hard.

"You just have to be focused, be prepared for everything, and try to give your best – that's the most important thing."

Halep is yet to win a Tour event this year and has suffered with hip and leg injuries, but the 27-year-old insists she is primed and ready for Roland Garros.

"I feel better, I feel ready to start the tournament," she said. "I had two finals this year, good finals, so I'm not disappointed about the start of the year.

"It's not always been the best year, so I'm trying more to enjoy my life, which I did, and I'm happier."

Halep had twice suffered defeat in the French Open final before last year's triumph over Sloane Stephens, and also lost the 2018 Australian Open final.