Caroline Wozniacki claimed her maiden Grand Slam title after beating Simona Halep 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4 to win the 2018 Australian Open in Melbourne on Saturday. Wozniacki also became the first Danish player to win a Grand Slam and returned to No. 1 in the WTA rankings ahead of Halep.
Wozniacki described the feeling of finally securing a Grand Slam, per AustralianOpen:
ESPN's Brad Gilbert noted how ending a long wait for a major will forever change the perception of Wozniacki:
Both players had to fight through the pain barrier as they dealt with leg injuries amid intense heat. In the process, they delivered a match for the ages—one so good CNN's Ravi Ubha suggested joint honours were due:
Ultimately, Wozniacki just did enough to shade things, earning praise for her fighting spirit from former British No.1 and current Eurosport presenter Annabel Croft:
Meanwhile, Johanna Konta saluted both players for their contribution to the profile of the sport:
Being part of a dramatic final will be little consolation for Halep, who lost her top ranking after struggling to deal with the heat in Australia.
Even so, the 26-year-old vowed to bounce back from missing her own chance to win a first major:
Halep had battled from 5-2 down to push the opening set into a tiebreak. However, Wozniacki made the telling shots to win the set and assume initial control of the final.
Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail applauded Wozniacki's bravery in securing a first set win in a Grand Slam final:
Halep's courage came to the fore early in the second set when she saved a break point to open a 2-1 lead. The Romanian was soon 3-2 ahead before she asked the physio to take her blood pressure.
The visit from the physio prompted Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams, to question Halep's conditioning:
However, Halep proved her doubters wrong by securing a critical break point to move 5-3 in front, despite obvious pain in her left thigh. Halep continued to defy her body and battled back from 15-40 down to save a break point and even the final at a set apiece.
Halep's stunning comeback under pressure and at less than 100 percent was typical of a player specialising in dramatic finals, according to WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen:
Heroics weren't in short supply when a clearly hobbled and gassed Halep soon broke serve again to stay in the decider at 3-2. Yet another break point seemingly put the world No. 1 in control at 4-3, before a Wozniacki break and strong service game positioned the Dane a game away from the title.
Wozniacki was overcoming her own injury issues, as she dealt with a knee problem, but the world No. 2 soon made history when Halep hit the net with a backhand.
The end of an epic match led Eurosport UK's Catherine Whitaker to reiterate that men and women tennis stars deserve equal reward:
Whitaker's words have weight after Halep and Wozniacki produced an instant classic in gruelling conditions.