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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Australian Open final: Simona Halep says Caroline Wozniacki had 'more energy in the end'

But Romanian player says she will be back for more challenges after third defeat in a major final

Simona Halep, right, has now lost in three grand slam singles finals. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
Simona Halep, right, has now lost in three grand slam singles finals. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Battle-weary Simona Halep says her time will come after failing for the third time to win a grand slam final, conceding her body simply gave up after a draining Australian Open.

Her 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 defeat on Saturday to Caroline Wozniacki was a double blow for the Romanian, who will also lose her No 1 world status to the Dane when the new rankings come out next week.

The courageous Halep, 26, said that she cried after the crushing loss, but was philosophical afterwards, saying: "It is just a tennis match in the end" and that "life goes on".

"But, yeah, I'm really sad I couldn't win it. I was close again, but the gas was over in the end. She was better. She was fresher. She had actually more energy in the end."

Despite losing, she vowed to bounce back and planned to get back to work after having a break and giving her aching body time to heal.

"I will fight and hopefully I will face another challenge like I did today," she said. I'm sad that I couldn't make it the third time, but maybe the fourth time will be with luck."

It has been a tough two weeks for Halep, who turned her ankle in her opening match and struggled with the injury throughout.

In Round 3, she played a 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 epic against Lauren Davis, saving three match points to come back from the brink.

Then came a draining rollercoaster semi-final against Angelique Kerber, with Halep battling through 9-7 in the third set, also saving match points.

The long hours on court took their toll in the final, which was played in hot and humid conditions on Rod Laver Arena, with ice-towels used at the changeovers.

Halep called the trainer in the second set after suffering headaches and feeling dizzy, with a doctor taking her blood pressure before giving her the OK to carry on.

She then started cramping, and said the tendons in both feet were bothering her.

"For sure. I was really tired. I had so many problems with my feet, pain everywhere," she said. "But, you know, I think I did pretty well with all the things that were going on.

"After the first set, I just was out. I don't know what happened. No energy, no power. But then I just said that I have to hit all the balls, and then I could take the second set.

"I came back in the third set, but when I had to serve for 5-3, the gas was gone, so I couldn't make it."

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Halep made her only previous grand slam final appearances at Roland Garros in 2014 and 2017, and she said the difference this time was that she was ready mentally.

"But the body was not ready because I had so many long matches," she said. "Mentally I was ready. I feel that I can face any challenge. I can play against anyone, I can win against anyone.

"But just sometimes is not how you want because you cannot physically do it."

Despite the defeat, it has been an excellent start to the season for Halep, who won a warm-up tournament in Shenzhen before her run to the final at Melbourne Park, where she had fallen in he first round in 2016 and 2017.