Caroline Wozniacki overcomes late wobble to reach first Australian Open final
Caroline Wozniacki overcame a late stutter to beat Elise Mertens and reach the Australian Open final for the first time.
The 27-year-old will await the winner of Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep after a battling 6-3 7-6 win over the unseeded Belgian to reach the third Grand Slam final of her career.
Wozniacki seemed largely in control throughout, and served for the match at 5-4, but wobbled slightly and was forced to save set points as the world No. 37 fought back.
However, after regaining her composure, she pushed hard in the tiebreak and moved into the final of a major for the first time in four years.
Seven years ago, Wozniacki had match point against Li Na at the same stage of the competition but failed to convert and it appeared that a similar fate may befall her in 2018.
And she admitted that moment was on her mind in the dying stages: ‘It means so much to me.
‘I got really tight at 5-4, a couple of double faults.
‘I was here in the semi-finals and serving for the match and I had a match point against Li Na, lost it – that was definitely on my mind today.
‘But I just tried to stay calm and I was lucky to get the win.’
Wozniacki is still fighting to become world No. 1 at Melbourne Park, and she may well take on top seed Halep – who faces 2016 champion Kerber – in a winner takes all battle for the top ranking. If the Romanian loses to the German, Wozniacki will return to the top of the rankings regardless of the final result.
But a maiden Grand Slam will be the priority for the former world No. 1 and she is just one match away.
The world No. 2 got off to a good start, breaking for a 3-1 lead and she held on to take the opening set.
A break for 3-2 in the second put her in total control and she served for the match at 5-4.
However, at the crucial moment, the Dane faltered.
Mertens converted her third break point chance of the match before the newly confident Belgian held with ease.
Set points followed for the 22-year-old as Wozniacki continued to suffer, but the second seed recomposed herself from 15-40 down to force a tiebreak.
The Dane roared through in the breaker and booked her spot in the final.