Halep, Wozniacki Target First Grand Slam

by Olga Hunt January 28, 2018, 0:30
Halep, Wozniacki Target First Grand Slam

"On that match point I thought this can't be real. From a year ago to today I'm so proud my friend so proud". My voice is shaking. "I'm going to cry".

It can all come full circle for Halep on Saturday if she defeats Caroline Wozniacki to claim a first Grand Slam title.

She won her first WTA Finals in Singapore at the end of October for the biggest title of her career, and announced her engagement days later to former National Basketball Association star David Lee.

Championship point - and a Halep error - followed.

Halep's has arguably been the bigger battle, with three match points recovered and nearly three hours spent on court as she defeated Lauren Davis 15-13 in the third set of their third round clash. I want to thank my team, my dad. Played players that were better than me on the day.

This is the first time that the No. 1 ranking has been up for grabs in a Grand Slam final since the 2012 Australian Open final that Victoria Azarenka won over Maria Sharapova. Halep has now saved match points in two separate matches at this Australian Open-five match points saved in all. "Sad that I couldn't make it the third time, maybe the fourth time will be with luck", said Halep, while congratulating her opponent. For sure I will fight and I have many years to go. 'It was an incredible match, an incredible fight.

Nothing focuses the mind more than when your money's at stake at it appears that Wozniacki has been taking a couple of fun trips to the casino to take her mind off tennis in her downtime. "I know that today is a tough day. He's stood by my side every step of the way". I was close again, but the gas was over in the end.

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The Romanian has only beaten Wozniacki twice in their six previous matches, the most recent meeting ending in a 6-0, 6-2 battering by the Dane at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore.

Both players were forced to dig deep, facing their third, third set match of the tournament, but it was Wozniacki who took advantage of her early lead and maintained her composure to prevail at the end of a almost three hour match on Rod Laver Arena.

The tournaments extreme heat policy was invoked meaning the players took a 10-minute break before the start of the third set.

Wozniacki broke straight back to lead 3-1, but just minutes later she trailed 4-3 in what was becoming a truly gripping final set.

Wozniacki saved match points in her second-round win over Jana Fett and later said she was relaxed because for the rest of the tournament she was "playing with the house money". She likely inherits the title of best women's player to not have a Grand Slam (it's either her or the retired Elena Dementieva), but she can hold her head high knowing she did not capitulate in the big moments as she did at times in last year's French Open final to Jelena Ostapenko.

So while McIlroy was over 7,000 miles away in Dubai storming to the halfway lead at the Dubai Desert Classic, himself having found new love with wife Erica Stoll, this must have been the sweetest moment of closure Wozniacki could have imagined.

"This, to me, is one of the most story-packed Major finals in a long, long time that doesn't involve one of the greats, meaning Serena (Williams), Rafa (Nadal) or Roger (Federer)", said Pam Shriver, an ESPN analyst and a former US Open finalist.


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