Wozniacki beats Mertens, reaches 1st Australian Open final

On The Line Podcast Australian Open quarterfinal review

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki clinched her maiden Grand Slam title and became the new women's world number one as she beat Simona Halep of Romania in a thrilling women's singles final at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Halep called for the trainer at 3-2 ahead in the second set for general health reasons, but it didn't hinder her play, breaking Wozniacki in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. And now she needs just one more win to claim her first major title. To set up match point, Wozniacki scurried and scuttled across the baseline, throwing back Halep's missiles however she could, including an awesome save from off the court where she delivered an amazingly angled backhand cross-court that set up a forehand victor. "I thought, 'OK, now you just have to go for it ... she's nervous now, too".

However, anyone thinking that this would be a positive for Halep needs to think again - the Romanian is also 0-2 in Slam finals, and was a much shorter price than Wozniacki in both, including starting at [1.33] against Jelena Ostapenko in Paris at the French Open past year.

By the time Wozniacki sealed victory, Halep had added another two hours and 49 minutes to her tally.

After backing up her domination of the season-ending championships in Singapore with her long-awaited grand slam breakthrough at Melbourne Park, the 27-year-old will return to world No.1 on Monday.

Wozniacki said: "I'm sorry, I'm just taking a second here to hug Daphne [the Daphne Akhurst trophy]".

"This is a very emotional moment. I know she's exhausted, too", said Wozniacki. "When you go out there on Saturday, (today) you have everything to win".

"The body was not ready because I had so many long matches. but mentally I was ready", she said.

"Every time I was like: "Oh, I can't do this any more, I'm exhausted.' We were playing all these insane long rallies". "I'm very excited for that". Both players stopped for medical timeouts during the final, but Wozniacki battled back to ensure victory.

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Wozniacki forced two break back points which Halep saved, before levelling on her third set point. After Wozniacki got her left knee taped, the Dane came out all guns blazing and finished the third set 6-4.

Wozniacki gave a special mention to her father Piotr, who had coached her since she was seven years old. Should Wozniacki get across the line, she will be tennis' equivalent to Indiana Jones, having crossed rope bridges and dodged rolling boulders on the way to the ultimate prize.

Halep saved two match points and needed four of her own against 2016 champion Angelique Kerber before winning 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 in the semi-finals. She was fighting off cramp during the second set and had her blood pressure checked by the doctor after feeling dizzy in the hot and humid conditions.

"I can still smile", she said.

Wozniacki collapsed to the floor in tears after Halep hit a backhand into the net to be broken for the fifth time.

"He said that he's really proud of me, of what I've done this tournament", Halep said.

Halep is now 0-3 in Slam finals, but you can't say the loss was a career downturn.

Halep was struggling physically but kept her resolve to level the match. I can win against anyone.

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