Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark outlasted Simona Halep 7/6 (2); 3/6; 6/4 to win her first Grand Slam title. It was a double for the second seed, who replaces the Romanian as the number one female player in the world. It was the fulfillment of the expectations and talent that had seen her in two previous Grand Slam finals, the same for her opponent.
The two ladies had many similarities coming into the finals. Both had lost in two Grand Slam finals. The older and second seeded Wozniacki lost to Kim Clijsters in New York 2009 and to Serena Williams in Melbourne in 2014. The top seeded Halep was defeated in Paris Maria Sharapova in 2014 and Jelena Ostapenko in 2017.
This year, in Melbourne, Halep faced three match points against American Lauren Davis in the third round and two in the semi-final match with Angelique Kerber. Wozniacki saved two match points when Jana Fett was leading 5-1 in the final set of their second round match. The final in Melbourne was their seventh career match-up, and Caroline now has a five to two record.
Everything was at stake and symbolism outweighed the scores. The first set could have gone either way and Halep would have won it had she converted the many opportunities to break Caroline’s service. In the entire match, Halep won five out of 12 break points while her Wozniacki took the game five times in 14 opportunities. In the ensuing tie-breaker, Halep lost with a wide margin of seven points to two. She did better in the second set and leveled the match one set apiece.
The battle came down to the final set. With each lady holding tight her service games, the eighth game was crucial. Wozniacki shot in front 15-0 but Simona hammered a forehand to level. Caroline reached game point when a Halep forehand sailed long but a double fault reduced the point tally. On the next point, Simona made an unforced backhand error and the Dane was up 5-4 and did not have to hit a serve any more. Needing to hold to stay in the match, Simona started off losing the first point but leveled with a forehand winner and led 30-15.
Next, she made a double fault for 30-all. A forehand winner by Caroline led to match point. Halep served to her opponent’s backhand side of Wozniacki who returned the ball down the line. Halep hit a backhand down the line and her opponent returned crosscourt. Halep hit crosscourt twice to her opponent who replied likewise. Then Halep sent the ball down the line to her opponent’s backhand. When Caroline hit the next shot crosscourt, it was the last ball she would play, as her opponent netted an attempted crosscourt shot.
The encounter was very close. Halep delivered six aces to two by Wozniacki who had six double faults to her opponent’s one. Halep made 40 outright winning shots while Wozniacki hit 25. At the finish line, the winner tallied 110 points to her opponent’s 108. With each player winning a total 16 games, the title could have gone either way.