By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Five reasons why Simona Halep will win her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open
- Retaining the World No. 1 is also on the cards for the Romanian
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – On Saturday, Simona Halep will take on Caroline Wozniacki for her dream of having a Slam title – can she take it on her third try?
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1) Halep feels ready for her first major title
One thing has been clear about Simona Halep since coming close to getting the World No. 1 ranking and being thwarted many times before finally achieving that goal – she welcomes the pressure that comes with it. She admitted that she stopped taking risks in her Roland Garros stumble in 2017, and that she still had thoughts about that match.
She has improved her mental fortitude with each knock-back, and she just keeps on coming – she is ready to take more risks and finally banish those thoughts.
2) Halep is battle ready after some very tough encounters.
She might have spent more time on court than Caroline Wozniacki (11 hours and 51 minutes compared to Wozniacki’s nine hours and 59 minutes) but let’s look at the quality of those encounters. She went to advantage in two matches, fending off match points in both those matches before going on to win.
3) About that ankle
The season had started so well for Halep. She had won the Shenzhen title and was coming into the Australian Open as the top seed, when an ankle turn looked to jeopardise all that.
She managed to beat Genie Bouchard pretty much on one leg, and then outlast Lauren Davis, and Angelique Kerber, and while the ankle is still giving her pain, the injury was not as serious as her team feared, and she has gone from hobbler to battler. If she could take everything a very in-form Kerber could throw at her, she can more than manage Wozniacki.
4) Third time’s the charm
When Halep reached her first Slam final, she was very much the underdog, and she put up a great fight against Maria Sharapova, but ultimately her lack of experience at that level let her down.
Against Jelena Ostapenko, she was very much the favourite and that messed with her mind. She got tight from the position of a set and a break up and the free swinging Ostapenko with nothing to lose took advantage of the favourite with everything on the line.
The World No. 1 is again on the line, as well as a first major title – and this time she is ready.
5) There is no favourite or underdog
Maybe for the first time for Halep coming into a Slam final, there is no favourite or underdog for the title. The World No. 1 and 2 have lived up to seeding and are both equally favoured. Halep has said she will treat it as just another match, and although she is facing a three-match losing streak against Wozniacki, she knows she can beat her, and that all but two of their six encounters have gone to three sets. If she can stay with her, she can take her.
She is perhaps a little more aggressive that Wozniacki and that will be the key to winning her first title.
The Australian Open 2018 Women’s final takes place on Saturday at 7:30pm (8:30am GMT).
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