Australian open: Wozniacki v Halep - Battling through to capture first grand slam title

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Germany's Angelique Kerber. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

It is appropriate that neither Caroline Wozniacki nor Simona Halep’s path to the Australian Open final has been smooth, for their journey to a potential first grand slam title has been anything but.

This is the first time in the Open era that both finalists have saved match points during the tournament, while Halep is the first woman to have done so in multiple matches and reached the trophy decider.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki takes a drink during her quarter-final against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

The world No 1 has had the look of a woman who will not settle for anything less than silverware ever since arriving in Melbourne.

She twisted her ankle in her first-round match, then saved three match points against Lauren Davis in the third round, winning the deciding set 15-13, before surviving two more match points in an extraordinary final set against Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals.

Wozniacki, meanwhile, trailed Jana Fett 1-5 and 15-40 in her second-round match before winning six games in a row.

Halep has certainly come a long way from the player who was briefly dumped by coach Darren Cahill last spring because of her poor on-court attitude.

The Romanian fought to reach her second French Open final last summer and looked poised to win the title only for Jelena Ostapenko to blast her way to the title.

Halep’s reaction to the disappointment was to add more aggression to her game, and ultimately her bravery at the biggest moments was what won her the match against Kerber.

She said: “I feel more experienced. Also stronger mentally. I feel I’m more aggressive. I did 50 winners (against Kerber). Eight aces. I hope to keep this also on Saturday.

“I’m ready for it. For sure it’s a big challenge.”

Halep and Wozniacki share the dubious distinction of having held the number one ranking without winning a grand slam title – and the winner today will top the standings on Monday.

Their paths, though, have been different.

Wozniacki was a teenage prodigy who faded but has now risen back to the top of the game while Halep emerged as a grand slam challenger four years ago and has been a consistent member of the top 10.

What they share is a deep desire to stop knocking on the door.

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