Caroline Wozniacki has reached her first ever Australian Open final by ousting Elise Mertens 6-3 7-6(2). Despite showing some nerves when serving the match out, she saved two set points at 5-6 down and went on to win the second set tiebreaker in a slightly more comfortable fashion.
Wozniacki was able to bring her top game very early on in the match. She easily broke Mertens at 1-1 by doing what she does best: putting every ball in play and chasing after everything. From then on she almost instantly found herself 4-1 up against the Belgian. Mertens did have a problematic start and her forehand was just not working in the third game, causing the 22-year-old to hit too many unforced errors and easily lose her serve.
From then on, both women increased their tennis levels and Mertens managed to save a set point on serve at 2-5 down to put some pressure on the Dane in serving for the set. However, Wozniacki was just too strong and exhibited some aggressive tennis to win the set 6-3. It was a very clean set from the 27 year old, who managed to hit more winners (13) and less unforced errors (6) than her opponent.
Mertens also had trouble in her first service game in the second set, finding herself 15-40 down, but managed to hit some big serves to win the game. Both women looked confident on serve for the next few games but it was in the fifth game of the set that Wozniacki struck. Mertens had played a very promising game to lead 30-0 but found her level slipping for the remaining points of the game and Wozniacki broke her serve for the second time. Wozniacki continued to serve brilliantly and eased through her next service game to lead 5-3, despite showing some nerves in the previous game.
The young Belgian started to approach the next more, and it clearly worked as she was able to apply some pressure and make Wozniacki serve the match out at 5-4. However, it was clear to see that the pressure of making her first Australian Open final was too much and squandered a 30-0 lead to be broken just when it looked like the match was on her racquet. Mertens then impressively held serve and and made her opponent serve to stay in the set. An initally out of sorts Wozniacki saved two set points at 5-6 to force a tiebreaker. Despite this, Wozniacki was too consistent in the tiebreaker and eased through with the score 7-2.
It was clear that the Dane was just too consistent for Mertens, who at times was just too patchy. Wozniacki’s experience was the main factor that allowed her to win this match, as Mertens had many opportunities to bring the match to three sets before Wozniacki found her way back through tough times. Mertens’ inexperience clearly got the better of her as she was not able to replicate her form over the last two weeks. Wozniacki will either face Simona Halep or Angelique Kerber in the final.