Wozniacki, Halep set for high-stakes Australian Open final
Forget what Caroline Wozniacki says, the stakes have never been higher heading into the Dane's Australian Open final with Simona Halep.
Wozniacki insists she is playing with "house money", while world number one Halep has been rolling the dice all tournament after carrying an ankle injury that had threatened her very participation in the year's first major.
Both have survived multiple match points to scrape into Saturday night's title decider on Rod Laver Arena and they are playing for much more than the world number one ranking and record-breaking $4 million winner's purse.
"It's bigger than number one, honestly," said Halep, the French Open runner-up in 2014 and 2017.
"It's also my dream to win a Grand Slam title. But it's always tough when you are close.
"I had this opportunity two times [before]. The last one was very close — maybe Saturday."
It is Wozniacki's dream, too, even if she is not quite as forthcoming.
Halep, Wozniacki and Dinara Safina are the only three women in half a century of professional tennis to have scaled the summit and also lost multiple singles finals at the majors without breaking through on one of the sport's four biggest stages.
Wozniacki satisfied despite 'one match to go'
With 27 titles and 67 weeks atop the rankings, compared to Halep's 16 trophies and 16 weeks as world number one, Wozniacki will be bidding to shed her tag as arguably women's tennis's most-accomplished talent without a major crown as validation.
But the 2009 and 2014 US Open finalist is trying not to think about it.
"I still have one match to go," Wozniacki said.
"It's been a great two weeks so far. I'm really happy and proud of how I've managed to turn things around when things weren't going my way and keep it up whenever it was going my way.
"I'm just excited. It's another finals. Regardless of what happens now, I've done my best."
Wozniacki was down and a point from being out of the Open while trailing Jana Fett 5-1, 40-15 in the deciding set of their second-round thriller.
Halep was on the brink not once, but twice during her dramatic run to the final.
The Romanian staved off three-consecutive match points from 0-40 down deep in the third set of her record-setting third-round epic against Lauren Davis, before fighting off two more match points in Thursday's engrossing semi-final win over Angelique Kerber.
WTA officials believe no woman in history has won a major after facing match points in two separate matches.
"Obviously Halep, just like me, was down match points early on in the tournament, has come back and fought her way," Wozniacki said.
"It's exciting because we're both playing for the number one ranking. Whoever wins on Saturday will be on the top of the rankings, which I think is a cool storyline.
"I'm just going to go out there and have fun, enjoy the moment."
So, too, will Halep in search of her 12th-straight win of an undefeated 2018.
"I don't want to change anything," Halep said.
"It's a normal match. I've played many times against her. I have to work. I'm ready for it."