Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki will each be trying to end a Grand Slam jinx when they lock horns in an Australian Open final Saturday between the world’s two best players.
Both Halep and Wozniacki are in their third major final -- their first in Australia -- and both saved match points in earlier rounds to get there.
Defeat for Romanian world number one Halep would see her knocked off the top ranking by the Dane, currently number two.
Wozniacki, 27, has long carried the unwanted moniker of best player never to win a major, having reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014, and first becoming number one in 2010.
She is in her 43rd Grand Slam appearance and with a win will regain the number one spot six years after last holding the position -- the longest gap between stints at the top since computerised rankings were introduced in 1975.
‘I always believed in myself. I had a tough period where I had a few injuries,’ said the 27-year-old after reaching another major final with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) win over unseeded Elise Mertens.
Wozniacki slid down the rankings to 19th at the end of 2016, and even had to dismiss rumours of retirement in Melbourne a year ago.
‘That was kind of hard and tough mentally. But once I got past that, I knew that if I can stay healthy and I work hard, my game is good enough for it,’ she said.
Her hard work was rewarded with a renaissance in 2017, reaching eight finals -- winning in Tokyo and at the season-ending WTA Finals, where she banished another hoodoo by registering a first career win over Venus Williams.
She continued her sparkling form at the start of this year and has 10 wins and only one defeat, to Julia Goerges in the warm-up Auckland final.
Halep is in her 31st Grand Slam tournament after defeating former champion Angelique Kerber 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 in a thrilling semi-final. She made her only previous Grand Slam final appearances at Roland Garros in 2014 and 2017.
The Romanian has only beaten Wozniacki twice in their six previous matches, the most recent meeting ending in a 6-0, 6-2 battering by the Dane at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore.
‘The way she’s playing, she’s not missing,’ said Halep of Wozniacki. ‘She’s running very well. So she’s a strong opponent. I played many times. I won against her few times.
‘It’s going to be a different match. Emotions are there. Pressures are there for both of us. We’ll see what is going to happen.’
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