Halep: I wasn't 100 per cent mentally


Battling to overcome homesickness and an Achilles problem, second seed Simona Halep said she did not feel 100 per cent as she bowed out in the first round of the Australian Open.

On a day that saw Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams sent packing, Halep was also eliminated, falling 6-4 6-3 to Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai on Tuesday.

Halep's preparation for the Australian Open was less than ideal due to an Achilles problem that forced her to withdraw from the Brisbane International.

And while Halep insisted she felt good physically during the shock defeat to Zhang, who had never won a major match in 14 previous attempts, the Romanian star said everything had taken its toll.

"Today I didn't have pain. I had no pain. I didn't feel the pain," stated Halep.

"I had many problems in this period before coming here, so I can say that I am a little bit down mentally because I was very homesick. Then I came here with Achilles [problems] again. So it's tough to be positive, 100 per cent, and try everything. But I did. I think I did everything I could. It was all I could do.

"I am okay, but disappointed, of course."

Halep struggled from the outset on Margaret Court Arena as Zhang raced out to a 4-0 lead before wrapping up the opening set, despite a late rally.

A two-time quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park, Halep was then gifted an early break in the second set. However, Zhang quickly clawed her way back, breaking to love in the eighth game, and never looked back thereafter in the biggest win of her career.

Halep added: "I think it wasn't my good day, but I give her [Zhang] a lot of credit because I think she played really well. She played without fear and she hit every ball.

"She had good rhythm. I think I played a little bit too short in the first set. Then she was dominating me because she felt the ball really well. Then I tried to change. I tried to stay there.

"She was better today. It's tough. I'm really disappointed. But it's only one day, only one match. Tomorrow, it's a new day. I have to look forward and to stay motivated. I have many matches in the future."