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Wozniacki Deserved to Win But Simona Halep Should Be Proud

This year’s Australian Open women’s final finished a few hours ago, Caroline Wozniacki defeating Simona Halep 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-4 and not only finally winning her first Grand Slam title, but also returning to the top of the WTA rankings. Interestingly, after having initially climbed to that position on September 11, 2010, she had lost it at the end of the 2012 Australian Open, on January 30 that year, so she’ll regain the spot after exactly six years in terms of competitions, and six years minus one day according to the calendar, since the rankings will be updated Monday.
It was quite a match, started very well by Wozniacki, with an early break, but eventually Halep fought back and earned a break of her own to make the set require a tie-break, though Wozniacki won that quite easily. In the second set Halep seemed to be struggling more and more, and requested medical assistance at one point, but somehow she managed one break to Wozniacki’s none and won 6-3 to take the match into the third set… Which was a rather weird one, including no less than seven breaks out of ten games, when the first two sets had included a total of three breaks. Wozniacki held her serve in the first game, but four breaks in a row followed that before Halep could also hold her serve once, then break again to take the lead for the first time in the set. At that point Wozniacki also called for medical assistance, though Halep still looked to be struggling far more and barely holding on. And so it proved, when Wozniacki returned to break again for 4-4, then hold her serve and then manage yet another break, converting her first match point in a game that also included Halep’s first and only double fault of the match.
But Simona Halep must definitely be proud of what she achieved during this tournament, especially after injuring her ankle in the very first round. In spite of that, she somehow came out on top of a thrilling third round match, won 4-6 6-4 15-13 against Lauren Davis, likely with a fair amount of luck, Davis injuring herself after losing the second of three consecutive match points at 11-10 on Halep’s serve and pretty much struggling to even stay on the court after that, though she did somehow manage to hold her serve two more times before Halep finally got the winning break. And then, of course, there was the semifinal, against Angelique Kerber, won 6-3 4-6 9-7, again after saving match points. All of this took its toll and it definitely showed, so it’s even more impressive that she came so close to winning her first Grand Slam title today despite it all.

Interestingly, on top of both players having entered this final as a WTA number one, former and soon-to-be current in Wozniacki’s case, current and soon-to-be former in Halep’s case, without any Grand Slam title, it was also the first Australian Open final and the third Grand Slam final for both of them. The difference was in the fact that, while Halep’s previous two finals had been at Roland Garros, in 2014 and 2017, Wozniacki’s had been at the US Open, way back in 2009 and then again in 2014. So I guess another similarity is that both reached one of their previous two Grand Slam finals in 2014.

And yes, of course I remember the post I wrote after last year’s Roland Garros final, when I was saying that Simona Halep lost what probably was the best opportunity she’ll ever get. And while at the time I was referring to winning her first Grand Slam title as well as to reaching the number one spot, I did state that it was still possible she’ll climb to the top of the rankings later, which proved to be the case. However, that definitely remains her best opportunity, in terms of favorable circumstances, to win a Grand Slam tournament, the fact that she was so close now being quite an achievement which, I state again, she should be proud of, considering the circumstances and the matches she had to play. But, if she’ll manage to avoid serious injuries, she has plenty of years ahead and there will be more opportunities for a Grand Slam title, and maybe she’ll manage to convert one of them, just like she did in order to reach that number one spot… Which she may also regain later. Who knows, maybe also in style, along with that title, just like Wozniacki did today.

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