Jan 25, 2018
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki overcame a late bout of nerves to beat unseeded Belgian Elise Mertens and reach her first Australian Open final.
The 27-year-old, seeded second, saw off the world number 37, 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in Melbourne.
Wozniacki is through to her third major final and will face top seed Simona Halep or 2016 winner Angelique Kerber.
Should Kerber win the second semi-final, Wozniacki will overtake Halep as the new world number one.
Wozniacki was two points from capping what would have been a hugely impressive serving performance, and a relatively straightforward victory, after 70 minutes.
Breaks of serve in the fourth game of the first set and the fifth game of the second had put the Dane firmly in control, and Mertens had failed to make an impression.
Twice a Grand Slam runner-up, and having lost her only previous Melbourne semi-final after holding match point against Li Na seven years ago, it was no great surprise that closing out the match might still be a test for Wozniacki.
“Calm down!” she told her team in the player box at one changeover as the finish line approached.
The Dane had lost just 11 points on serve across two sets when she first tried to seal it at 6-3 5-4.
However, from 30-0 the tension took hold, the service lost its power and a double fault allowed Mertens to level.
Suddenly the 22-year-old Belgian was able to tee off on some weak second serves, and it was a credit to Wozniacki that she clung on in the face of two set points to force a tie-break.
The dominant Wozniacki returned and she capitalized on an early break, firing a backhand into the corner to set up match point and raising her arms in relief when Mertens found the net.