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Australian Open: Halep-Wozniacki, final at the top between the world’s N.1 and 2

Ⓒ AFP – SAEED KHAN – | Simona Halep of Romania faces Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the semifinals of the Australian Open on January 25, 2018 in Melbourne

The Australian Open final will face world No.1 and No.2, Romania’s Simona Halep and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday in Melbourne.

Halep knocked Germany’s Angelique Kerber out of suspense in three sets on Thursday, having saved two match points, 6-3, 4-6, 9-7. Previously, Wozniacki had got rid much more easily of the Belgian Elise Mertens 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

The two women, in search of a first major title, will play their first final in Melbourne and their third Grand Slam. The winner will be N.1 worldwide on Monday.

. Still match balls

“It was very hard, I’m still shaking,” said Halep, who had already saved three match points in the third round against American Lauren Davis. The Romanian, aged 26, this time dismissed two to 6-5 on the Kerber service. She herself had missed two others earlier at 5-4 as she was serving for the match.

In June, Halep lost his second final at Roland Garros (after 2014) against the young Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, largely outsider, for lack of knowing how to take the game to his account.

The lesson was chosen and against Kerber, a 29-year-old player renowned for her footwork and tenacity in defense, she decided to take the initiative.

She once seemed to be heading for an expeditious victory against a rival apathetic at first: 20 of the first 25 points of the match fell into his purse!

But the German, 16th world after a failed season 2017, but returned close to the level that allowed her to win the Australian Open and the US Open in 2016 and occupy the first place in the world, has responded.

The end of the game kept Rod Laver Arena spectators on the alert. The exchanges were long and fierce, between two players who wanted nothing to let go despite fatigue.

“It was a roller coaster, but I did not give up, I have to say I’m very proud of myself,” said Halep, who served better (6 aces) and scored more points than his opponent ( 50 to 33).

. A bad memory erased

Ⓒ AFP – SAEED KHAN – | Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki face Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the semifinals of the Australian Open on January 25, 2018 in Melbourne

Wozniacki erased the bad memories of the year 2011. N.1 world at the time, she had lost in the semifinals after having a match point against the Chinese Li Na.

Thursday, the story almost repeated itself. While she had totally dominated the match and led 6-3, 5-4, 30-0, serving for the match, the Danish was caught up in doubt. She committed two double faults in this crucial game. “The match against Li Na was still in my head,” said the 27-year-old.

Wozniacki came out just in time from his air hole to save two set balls at 5-6 on his serve, then win the tie-break against the surprise guest of the last square, 37th in the world.

This beautiful course confirms its return to the fore after difficult seasons. In October, she had finally won her first major title, at the Masters, in her twelfth year on the professional circuit. This will be his third major final after those lost at the US Open in 2009 and 2014.

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