WTA Finals: Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki can deal with pressure for success, says Kim Clijsters

Simona Halep (left) and Caroline Wozniacki in action, who have both ended their Grand Slam title droughts this year.
Simona Halep (left) and Caroline Wozniacki in action, who have both ended their Grand Slam title droughts this year.PHOTOS: AFP, DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - An hour after she won her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open, Kim Clijsters was asked in a media conference which Major she wanted to win next.

Such was the nature of the public and media's insatiable demand for success, which Clijsters believes Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki are well-equipped to deal with, after the duo ended their Grand Slam title droughts this year.

"I don't think I need to give them advice because I think when you've gone through that phase that they've already gone through, you've learnt how to deal with it," the four-time Major champion told The Straits Times at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, where she is a legend ambassador.

Clijsters, 35, recalled being asked if she wanted to win a Major outside the US Open, after she clinched her third US Open crown in 2010. The Belgian said: "I used to laugh at it. I'm like, yeah, of course I would like to win all four of them if I could, but it's not that easy.

"The only thing I can do is work every single week, every single day, every single practice to try and give myself the best opportunity to get as close to winning a Grand Slam as possible."

Wozniacki landed her first Major on her 43rd attempt at January's Australian Open, beating Halep 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-4. For world No. 1 Halep, it was her third defeat in a Grand Slam final, all in three sets. Her breakthrough would come in June, when she beat the American Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the French Open, her third Roland Garros final.

The 27-year-old, who withdrew from the WTA Finals owing to a lower back injury, told ST that winning her first Slam has given her more confidence and ease of mind.

"I feel complete now that I've won a Grand Slam," said the Romanian. "I want more Grand Slams. I want more years ending as No. 1 so my goals are the same.

"I'm still motivated and I'm looking forward to being healthy to be able to go on court to work hard. Now the press is different. I don't get that question (when I would win a Slam) any more, but I was enjoying it also because they made me focused on that goal.

"Maybe that's why I was able to do it."

World No. 3 Wozniacki, who reached her first Slam final at the 2009 US Open, said before the WTA Finals: "Honestly, (winning a Slam) doesn't change my mindset at all. I feel good. I feel like I know I can win. I know I can beat the best players. But, at the same time, you have to play really well."

With a smile, the 28-year-old added: "It just changes when I go into a press conference. It's so nice I never get that question again."

Wozniacki, the 2017 WTA Finals champion revealed on Thursday after losing to Ukrainian Elina Svitolina that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease which affects the joints, before the US Open in August.

But she has every intention of building on what she considers the best year of her career.

The Dane, who won her third title of the year in Beijing this month, said: "(That win) gave me the belief that nothing is going to set me back.

"I'm going to work with this and this is how it is, and I can do anything."