Hindustan Times (Delhi)
Halep, Wozniacki set up title clash
AUSTRALIAN OPEN World Nos 1 and 2 score contrasting victories in semifinals, eye their maiden Grand Slam title
MELBOURNE: Simona Halep came through a three-set thriller against Angelique Kerber Thursday to set up a winnertakes-all Australian Open final against Caroline Wozniacki, where the number one ranking will be on the line.
The Romanian top seed battled past former champion Kerber 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 and now faces an enticing showdown against the number two seed, with both chasing a maiden Grand Slam title.
Wozniacki beat unseeded Belgian Elise Mertens 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) after a late wobble when she was broken serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set.
“Halep, just like me, was down match points early on in the tournament,” said Wozniacki. “I think it’s exciting because we’re both playing for the number one ranking.”
Saturday’s final, which could be played in forecast temperature of up to 35 Celsius (95 Farenheit), looks set to be a gruelling do-ordie clash between two players known for their tenacity and court coverage.
“I respect her a lot, and I know it’s going to be similar. I will have to run, so a very good rest after this match,” said Halep.
“I want to give my best to believe that I have the chance to win and not to think about the title. If it’s going to come, it’s going to come.”
In a see-sawing contest, Halep sprinted into a 6-3, 3-1 lead against Kerber before the 2016 Melbourne Park winner, seeded 21, fought back.
The Romanian finally prevailed in 2hr 20min with her fourth match point to ensure a new name will grace the trophy.
“Definitely was very tough. I’m shaking now. I’m really emotional right now because I won this match,” said Halep, who saved two match points.
“I knew it was going to be tough. She is hitting from everywhere, I’m glad I could resist. Thank you everyone for supporting me, you helped me.”