Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki finally captured an elusive Grand Slam title, overcoming Romania’s Simona Halep 7-6 3-6 6-4 to win the 2018 Australian Open. It was a hard fought contest for both players, in Wozniacki’s case, she needed strapping on her leg late in the third set to play on. 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 nearly three hour match on Rod Laver Arena.
Wozniacki was up a break in the third, then went behind a break only to get it right back for 4-4, hold her serve, and then play an amazing point while taking advantage of Halep’s errors to win the match 6-4 in the third, taking the final advantage after front running for most of the match.
After a final error by Halep in the back and forth contest, Wozniacki fell to the court in pure joy, winning her first Grand Slam in three finals. Just a point prior to Halep’s error, the Dane played an incredible cross court point to generate the only match point she would need.
Halep, Romania’s #1, falls to 0-3 in Grand Slam finals after she dropped the first and third sets. The first set saw Wozniacki get an early break, only to be broken back late, and then take the ensuing tiebreak 7-2. Set 2 was one way traffic for a determined Halep, she saved four break points early in the second, then broke Wozniacki for 5-3 and saved three more break points to serve out the set. For a time it seemed that Halep stopping Wozniacki from getting a set and a break lead would be enough to put her back into the driver’s seat to take the title, but that turned out to not be the case.
Both players were a bit shaky on serve, especially in the third set, but Halep’s errors mounted throughout the match, the downside of being the aggressor who hit more winners in total. Halep and Wozniacki had a near equal number of break chances, and broke the same number of times, but the Dane won the pressure points more consistently, perhaps inspired by coming back from 5-1 and match point down in the third set against Jana Fett early in the tournament.
In the third it turned out that nothing could stop Denmark’s Wozniacki, not even pain in her leg below the knee. Halep’s errors caught up with her and a pro Wozniacki crowd helped boost the Dane who was also contesting her third career Grand Slam final. Wozniacki survived both internal and external constant pressure to win her maiden slam title and prove herself as one of the best players in tennis today. At 27 years old, Wozniacki is now 1-2 for Grand Slam finals and has 67 weeks at world #1, weeks she will add to as she again moves back into the #1 ranking in the world. She’s also the first Grand Slam champion from Denmark.
The 26 year old Halep, now ranked world #2, appears due to win a Grand Slam title in her own right; perhaps she’ll be next woman up in Paris, having previously reached two French Open finals.