Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open victor, won the Sydney International title on Saturday.
Johanna Konta is still working through the consequences of her dramatic slump during the second half of previous year but goes into the Australian Open feeling positive once more.
It became something of an odyssey for Halep, who having been one match away from No 1 three times clinched it at the fourth attempt. I think even that match in Sydney has helped me along my way in really trying to play at the level that I want to play. "I'm enjoying more the time on court". "It's not clear cut", he told Reuters. All have been in finals, with Romania's world number one Halep winning in Shenzhen, and Svitolina in Brisbane. "Just one match at a time". "However many matches I win or lose in between that is not going to change the course that I feel I'm on". "But the women's game doesn't have that at the moment".
The American has won all four of her meetings with Belinda Bencic, winning in Luxembourg in 2012, the French Open in 2014 and in Dubai and at the US Open in 2015.
Stephens made her first big impression in the game at the 2013 Australian Open when she upset Serena Williams to reach a first major semifinal.
The top seed is adamant she is more at ease with her pursuit for a maiden major title."I am more relaxed".
In Singapore, she reeled off wins over Elina Svitolina, Halep and Karolina Pliskova and has risen from 19th to second in the world in 12 months. I'd certainly love to play my best tennis and have my best run in a grand slam here.
Konta goes into the Australian Open- where she is No 9 seed- feeling positive once more
After having to deny retirement rumours just over a year ago, the Dane comes to Melbourne with her eye on regaining the top world ranking six years after she last held it.
Britons Konta and Kyle Edmund will both head into the Australian Open fully fit after recovering from injuries. Venus Williams is a threat at 37 years old after finishing second to her sister last year.
Injury and illness stalled her initial return to the circuit but a Tianjin Open win in October and run to the Shenzhen Open semi-finals suggests the five-time major victor is nearing her best and the 2008 champion will expect to go deep in Melbourne. "It's an interesting period, to be honest", she added smiling, appreciating that she doesn't have to open a packet and wear whatever she gets.
"It's so tough to predict", the German said.
"I think obviously my experiences sort of in my first career, I suppose, first time around, was very different", she said.
"It's not because of her beliefs, it's because of her achievements in the sport". The Ukrainian, who is the partner of the England cricketer Reece Topley and trains at Chelsea Harbour when in London, is yet to go past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam.
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