And then there were two. After a few weeks of tumultuous and entertaining tennis these two heavyweights of the women’s game have made it all the way to the showpiece event.
Extra intrigue is added as, amazingly, neither of these players have won a Grand Slam in their illustrious careers. Seeded first (Halep) and second (Wozniacki) in the world respectively, it adds extra astonishment that both are yet to break their duck in tennis’ Big Four.
As well as hoisting the coveted Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, the winner of the final will also be guaranteed to be top dog in the WTA Rankings.
These two have met six times in the past with Wozniacki leading the head to head 4-2, it’s two a piece on hard courts however.
Halep has been an absolute machine so far this year, having won WTA Shenzhen at the beginning of January and now getting to the final in the Australian Open. She is yet to even lose a match in 2018, winning 11 straight so far.
She began her Aussie Open campaign with straight sets victories over wildcard entrant Destanee Aiava and a Twitter dater Genie Bouchard.
She was however, extremely lucky in the R32 to scrape past the American Lauren Davis. Davis had a THREE match points and yet, couldn’t pluck up the nerve to win a measly one of them. The Romanian showed her experience in this one and battled through to win 4-6, 6-4, 15-13.
Halep got back normality against Naomi Osaka in the next round, winning with ease and impressing whilst doing so. She faced up against a lot of people’s pre-tournament fancy Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final.
This was shaping up to be a cracking contest as Pliskova has a game suited for hard courts, possessing a monstrous serve and a powerful forehand, but alas the spectators were disappointed as Halep breezed past the Czech in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
The semi-final against tournament favourite Angelique Kerber was a fantastic contest. It possessed everything the casual spectator could have hoped for, skill, panache, determination, tantrums and it ultimately came down to who wanted it more.
Halep looked good early on taking the first set, but Kerber came back strong and took the second, forcing a decider. The final set could have gone either way, but eventually the feisty Romanian Halep prevailed and won it 9-7 to advance to the final.
Wozniacki on the other hand has been equally impressive and is on a ridiculously good run of form herself. She won the prestigious Singapore WTA Tour Championships before Christmas and was very unlucky to lose to Julia Goerges in the WTA Auckland International final in early January.
Wozzer kicked off her Australian Open dispatching Michaela Buzarnescu easily in straight sets. The second round was a completely different story however.
Lazarus didn’t have a patch on the miraculous recovery she made. Down two match points and 1-5 in the third and final set, Wozniacki won the last six games to triumph over Jana Fett. Fett played beautiful tennis for the majority of the match, showcasing an array of down-the-line drives and sharp angles to run Wozniacki on a wild goose chase. Bu,t eventually this Cinderella of the ball turned into a pumpkin and the fairy tale result was no more.
The R32 and R16 were back to business for Wozniacki as she dispatched Kiki Bertens and Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets and a quarter-final against the Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro awaited.
She duly produced and impressive bagel (6-0) in the first set and things looked ominous for Suarez Navarro. To everyone’s surprise though, the Spaniard battled back admirably to win the second set 7-6 in a tiebreaker. Normality ensued in the last though with Wozniacki producing the goods to win match 6-0, 6-7, 6-2.
The semi-final was a match-up against Elise Mertens, who shocked everyone by beating the inform Elina Svitolina in the quarters. This was a competitive match, but ultimately Wozniacki prevailed to win 6-3, 7-6 to reach her first Grand Slam final since 2014.
It is undeniable that both players are at the top of their games at the moment and it is hard to see this being anything but a highly competitive affair. But, Halep looks to have found really impressive form since her scare against Lauren Davis and seems set to finally realise her dreams and capture her maiden Grand Slam title here in Australia.
* All odds correct at time of posting.