Caroline Wozniacki wins thrilling Australian Open women's final against Simona Halep
Dane wins energy-sapping contest in hot and humid conditions on Rod Laver Arena
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 24/05/18 2:16pm
Caroline Wozniacki claimed her maiden Grand Slam title with an epic 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-4 win over Simona Halep in the Australian Open women's final on Saturday.
The second-seeded Dane also claimed the world No 1 ranking from Halep, exactly six years after relinquishing it at the 2012 Australian Open.
Wozniacki, who was presented with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy by Billie Jean King, said: "I'm just taking a second here to hug Daphne.
"This is a very emotional moment. It's been an incredible two weeks. I want to congratulate Simona. I know today is a tough day. It was an incredible match, an incredible fight - I'm sorry.
"I want to thank my team, my dad. You've stood by me every step of the way. Thank you everyone for coming out today, it's been a special moment."
Wozniacki was the more assured player in the early stages and she quickly raced into a commanding 3-0 lead. But Halep upped the aggression, losing just four points on serve en route to breaking back and sending the opening set into a tie-break.
But it was the 27-year-old Wozniacki, twice a losing finalist at the US Open, who stepped up again, drilling her backhand down the line to claim it 7-2.
Relive the action as Wozniacki wins Australian Open classic
How Wozniacki won a thrilling women's final against Halep...
Halep was the bookmakers' favourite but the head-to-head record favoured Wozniacki, who was playing in her 43rd Grand Slam, and the slug-fest was entertaining the raucous crowd on Rod Laver Arena.
Halep, who survived two more match points in an extraordinary final set against Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals, fended off four break-point chances for Wozniacki in the third game of second set, but she was ailing significantly in hot and humid conditions, with the trainer called at one point to take her blood pressure.
VOTE: Australian Open men's winner?
Vote for your winner of the Australian Open between Roger Federer and Marin Cilic
The 26-year-old appeared heavy legged and wobbly, but it was Wozniacki who showed the first sign of weakness as Halep somehow conjured up enough energy to break in the eight game. The Dane had three chances to break back
but could not take them and Halep put a bad miss on her first set point behind her to pull level.
With the heat rule in effect, the players were given a 10-minute break between sets which appeared to be a big relief for Halep, who looked close to cramping.
It was becoming compelling viewing with six breaks of serve in a gruelling first eight games of the final set shoot-out.
Halep was appearing to gain momentum when it was the turn of the reigning WTA Finals champion Wozniacki to take a medical time-out due to a problem with her left knee. She returned to level up at 4-4 before holding serve, although the tension was clearly palpable.
The Dane held her nerve to bring up championship point following a lung-busting rally, showcasing her defensive and offensive skills, and then collapsed to the court after two hours and 49 minutes of captivating action when Halep netted her backhand.
Halep, speaking on the court after the match, said: "I want to congratulate Caroline, it's unbelievable.
"It's been a great tournament for me. I started not very well with an ankle injury but I am glad to play a Grand Slam final. I have many years to go, so hopefully I will face another challenge like this today."
Halep v Wozniacki: Match Stats
|61||First serve percentage in||58|
|65||First serve win percentage||66|
|47||Second serve win percentage||51|
|5/12||Break points won||5/14|
|108||Total points won||110|
Tennis updates straight to your phone
How to receive all the latest tennis news straight to your mobile
Follow the Australian Open with skysports.com
We will be covering the Australian Open finals on skysports.com/tennis with news, previews, live blogs, reports and expert analysis. On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsTennis