Caroline Wozniacki defeats Simona Halep in an epic final at the Australian Open

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark lifted her first Grand Slam Singles title at the Australian Open by defeating Simona Halep of Romania in a hard-fought final match. The 2-hour 50-minute final was an exemplary instance of tenacity and diligence as both players sensational tennis. It was Wozniacki who had that extra bit which saw her through in a final of epic proportions.

The script of the final couldn’t have been written better. Top-ranked Halep and second-ranked Wozniacki had never won a Grand Slam title. Thus, the winner stood to take home her first Grand Slam title along with the World No 1 ranking.

The first set saw Wozniacki race ahead to a three-game lead after breaking Halep in the second game. Subsequently, the set played its course with both players holding their serve. Wozniacki seemed comfortable to take the first set. However, things turned as Halep broke Wozniacki to level the set. The first set headed to an exciting tie-break. Wozniacki brought her aggressive best to court. A combination of deep and wide forehands and quick volleys forced a number of errors from Halep. Wozniacki’s onslaught for too strong for Halep and she won the tie-break 7-2, thus, winning the first set, 7-6.

The second set saw longer games. Both players held their service games. At 4-3 on Halep’s serve, she called for a medical timeout. She found it difficult to continue owing to the heat and humidity. Also, the ankle injury she suffered in her first-round game troubled her.  However, she overcame this obstacle and broke Wozniacki in the subsequent game to take a 5-3 lead. She went on to win her following service game and bagged the second set 6-3. Throughout the set, just when Halep seemed down and out, she came up with a flurry of shots that Wozniacki did not have answers to.

The match was set for an engaging final set.

The decider saw Halep and Wozniacki play to their strengths. The scoreboard oscillated between Deuce and Advantage on a number of occasions. Both players broke each other’s serves a number of times. It was Wozniacki’s time to call for a medical timeout.  She was treated for a niggle on her knee. The next two games had Wozniacki written all over them. She breezed through her service game and dominated Halep’s service game. A double fault from Halep gave Wozniacki her first championship point. Rod Laver arena erupted as Halep netted her backhand. The Dane fell to her knees in tears of joy as she converted the first and only match point of the tie.

Caroline Wozniacki won her first Grand Slam Singles title. The final scorecard read 7-6, 3-6, 6-4.

12-time Grand Slam winner Billie Jean King awarded the finalists with their trophies.

“I want to congratulate Caroline, congrats to you and your team. It has been a great tournament for me. I didn’t start well with an ankle injury but I just wanted to do well every match. Of course, I’m sad I couldn’t win, but Caroline was better than me today,” said Simona Halep at the post-match presentation.

“I’ve dreamt of this moment for so many years and my voice is shaking, it’s a very emotional moment. I want to thank everyone who makes this tournament happen, it’s been an incredible two weeks. I want to congratulate Simona. I know today is a tough day. I’m sorry that I had to win, but I’m sure we’ll have many matches in the future. It was an incredible match, an incredible fight,” said Wozniacki she said after receiving the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.

Wozniacki has become the first Danish woman to win a Grand Slam title. She also sits atop the WTA rankings post her win at Melbourne.

Match Summary:

Caroline Wozniacki vs Simona Halep (7-6  3-6  6-4)

Match Duration: 2 Hours 49 Minutes

Simona Halep Caroline Wozniacki
61% 1st Serve Percent 58%
6 Aces 2
1 Double Faults 6
40 Winners 25
47 Unforced Errors 28
5/12 Break Points Won 5/14
11/12 Net Points Won 11/17
108 Total Points Won 110

Sources: No sources. I watched the match.

Dramatic return for Maria Sharapova

It was at the 2016 Australian Open when she was tested positive for the banned heart medication Meldonium after losing to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Although her suspension ended in April, physical ailments have plagued her comeback all summer. She couldn’t play the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon because of a left thigh injury, pulled out of both Toronto and Cincinnati tournaments due to a left forearm tweak. The U.S. Tennis Association, as a courtesy to a former champion, gave her a wild card entry into the Grand slam and she played her first match back like she never ever left.
She was slated to play current world No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania against whom she has a head to head record of 6-0. This match showed why that record is so one sided. Maria’s serve was precise, she was hitting each angle perfectly and she easily covered more ground than her opponent. But Halep was not going to let this match go so easy since the stakes were even higher for her. She was one of seven women who was vying for the coveted world No.1 position. She fought with vigour but eventually surrendered the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to Sharapova in what was a thrilling match.
At the end of the match Sharapova was quoted saying, “Despite not playing a lot of matches coming into this, it almost seemed like I had no right to win this match today. And I somehow did. I think that is what I’m most proud of. I felt like my team and I have been through a lot. Since I’ve come back, I feel like I’m on a team. You know, I’m not just winning for myself, but I’m winning for everyone that has stood behind me. That is a very special feeling to have.”