TENNIS: World No.4 Simona Halep hopes to banish the ghosts of last year's Australian Open when she opens proceedings on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
This time last year, Halep was dismissed in the season-opening grand slam's first round by China's Shuai Zhang in straight sets - a bit of history the Romanian is determined not to repeat against Shelby Rogers.
"I hope it's going to be better this year,” Halep said.
"Last year, yeah, it was tough for me. I lost first round. But the opponent played well. She made quarter-finals, so (it) was not that bad.
"But still, I'm looking forward to (Monday's) start, even if it's first match on centre court. I will be excited to be there.”
On the Black Sea coast of Romania, where Halep lives, average temperatures at this time of year can push minus 10 degrees. On Monday, as first match up, Halep will likely be heading on court with the mercury already pushing 30.
She has been in Australia for four weeks in an endeavour to acclimatise and said while she was "used to it now”, she was glad to be playing on Monday rather than Tuesday when it is forecast to hit 38 degrees.
"You know, it's always tough because I'm not like when I was a kid that used to stay in this heat this period of time,” she said.
"Now I have already four weeks here in the heat, so I'm used to it now.”
And she said an Australian Christmas spent with coach Darren Cahill and his family threw up a very different experience.
"Very different. They were in the flip-flops, in the pool,” Halep laughed.
"In Romania, we were used to stay like a formal dinner. Everyone is very well dressed. You don't have to move much.
"I had a very different Christmas. It was fun. I was in the shorts. So it was, yeah, a big difference between these two.”
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