The Romanian shook off some rust against Ash Barty in Sydney but she's not in peak form ahead of the Aussie Open.

After falling in second-round action at the Sydney International to Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep was decidedly upbeat. Not necessarily about her chances at 2019’s first Grand Slam, but that she was able to play pain-free after an offseason that was extra-long due to a back injury that plagued her at the conclusion of 2018.

“No pain at all,” Halep said after taking a 6-4 6-4 loss to the Australian World No.15. “I'm happy about that. It's a great sign. I will recover now, and I will see how I wake up tomorrow morning, because it's important.”

Tennis Now Year End Sale

As far as her prospects for the year’s first major, Halep is a lot less sanguine. The Romanian, who won her first major last June at Roland Garros, says she simply hasn’t had enough time to shake the rust off to consider herself a contender at the Australian Open.

“Not really,” she said when asked if she felt like she had enough match play to feel ready for next week’s main draw play at Melbourne, “but I took the risk. I took a longer break because I needed it. Also mentally, also physically. So I have no expectations. That's why I always say because I cannot expect myself to be at the highest level in this moment, because I didn't play matches, but tennis is good, so I have just to believe in myself more.”

Halep has now lost five consecutive matches dating back to the Cincinnati final last August. She couldbe in for a difficult season now that she has parted ways with coach Darren Cahill and has yet to hire a new coach. She doesn’t plan to for several months.

When asked how it felt to be without Cahill for the first time in four years, she replied:

“Weird and tough. You know, it's a new beginning, let's say, and I will give myself a chance, a few months, just to chill on court.”