Australian Open 2018 - Women's final
Caroline Wozniacki wins her first major title in Melbourne!
The 27 year old Danish player has captured her first Australian Open crown at Rod Laver Arena. She outlasted her opponent Simona Halep 7:6 3:6 6:4 in a gruelling 3 set encounter that lasted 2 hours and 49 minutes.
Both women were trying to win their first major title, having lost twice previously, Wozniacki was twice the runner up at US Open and Halep at the French Open. Both reached the AO final for the first time in their careers. Both saved match points in their previous rounds, and both had to fight very hard to keep their Australian dream alive.
From the start of the match it was Wozniacki who looked fresher. She started well, and quickly earned herself a 3:0 lead over Halep. But the Romanian is known for her fighting spirit, and great defending skills. Just as the Dane was about to serve out the first set at 5:3 Simona fought back to level the match at 5:5. Tiebreak soon followed. With her aggressive play it was Caro who took the initiative in the tiebreak losing just two points to take the first set. In the second set they were going head to head, Caroline tried hard to take control but despite having 4 break points in the 3rd game was unable to do so. Saving those BPs proved to be crucial for the Romanian who then just needed one break point of her own to take the 5:3 lead in the set. She sealed the set 6:3 saving another 3 break points on the way.
With the heat rule in place, the players then walked off court for a 10 minute break. Halep was visibly affected by the conditions in the second set, called a medical time out and complained about dizziness. These physical problems, however, did not stop her from forcing the decider.
When players returned to action, it was Wozniacki who quickly broke Halep for a 2:0 lead but was unable to consolidate the break. At 1:2 Halep was broken again giving Wozniacki a 3:1 lead. But the history, as it often does, repeated itself. Wozniacki was broken straight back and Halep then followed with a service game of her own to level things up at 3:3. It was, at that point, very difficult to predict the winner. The Dane lost her serve again giving the Romanian 4:3 advantage. But she didn’t let her opponent to consolidate the break and levelled the match again, 4:4, following it with a solid service hold for 5:4 lead. Suddenly it was Halep who found herself under a lot of pressure, serving to stay in the match and keep her AO hopes alive. Wozniacki earned herself one break point at 40:30, kept the rally going until she forced the error from Halep who sent the ball straight into the net. The Dane, then threw her racket in the air, and fell sobbing to the ground.
We’ve seen this image so many times… A player wins a major or any other title, and falls into the ground in tears, What an incredible feeling that must be, only they know...
Caroline has finally captured her maiden major! And to make things even sweeter for her, she has recaptured her no. 1 ranking for the first time in 6 years. She was the World no. 1 for 67 weeks previously, between 2010-12.
In her post match press conference, Caroline said,’’It was such a tough grind. It was very hot out there. I think both of us were very tired in the end. At the same time we fought our hardest, and I'm very proud to be here with the trophy.”
Simona said, "I was really tired, I had so many problems at my feet, pain everywhere. 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.” Simona added, "I can still smile. It’s fine. I cried, but now I'm smiling. It's just a tennis match in the end. But 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.”
It is a painful and a tough loss for Halep who battled hard throughout the fortnight, not only with her opponents but also her injuries. The ankle injury she sustained in the first round and her long 3 set battles against Lauren Davis and Angelique Kerber have finally taken its toll.
But in tennis there can only be one winner. Caroline has shown in her AO campaign, that she’s strong both mentally and physically, and proved again and again that has great defending skills. Playing a more aggressive tennis was the key for her to win the most important tournament of her career to date.
"I think being the new Grand Slam champion and World No.1 sounds pretty good,” Caroline said with a smile. "I'm very excited for that. It's a dream come true."