Fri, Jan 26, 10:45am by Staff Writer
The 2018 Ladies Australian Open final will feature the top two seeds in the women’s draw, number one seed Simona Halep and number two seed Caroline Wozniacki.
Neither Halep nor Wozniacki has won a Grand Slam title, but on Saturday night, one of them will have the best moment of their career when they lift Grand Slam silverware.
The path to the final for both players has been difficult at times, with Halep having the tougher rout to the final.
An opening round straight sets win against Australian wildcard Destainee Aiava was not without trouble, with Halep looking to badly turn her ankle in the second set.
That injury scare sent shockwaves through the tournament, with many fearing Halep would be hampered in coming matches.
Despite a heavy taped ankle, Halep easily brushed aside Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, before facing her biggest test at the Open.
A 15-13 win in the final set against American Lauren Davis where Halep saved two match points was a turning point for the Romanian physically and mentally as she has battled mental demons on the tennis court for years with regards to closing out close matches.
Straight sets with against Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova followed and set up a dream semi-final against 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.
After racing to a 5-0 lead, Halep stumbled before winning the first set and dropping the second.
A see-saw final set followed, where Halep led 5-3 and had match points, before being broken and finding herself down 6-5 and saving match points.
The match ended with Halep victorious 9-7, capping a remarkable two weeks so far at Melbourne Park.
In her match against Kerber, Halep appeared to be physically the stronger player and will have that advantage against Wozniacki.
Her ground strokes were impeccable for the most part and her serving was clutch in key moments.
Second seed Wozniacki had her own scare during the Open, in the second round against Jana Fett.
Trailing 5-1 in the final set, Wozniacki battled back to win the third set 7-5.
That win followed victories against Kiki Bertens and Magdalena Rybarikova, before a late night win against Carla Suarez Navarro.
A straight sets win against Elise Mertens in the semi-final sets up another Grand Slam final appearance for Wozniacki.
Wozniacki had a resurgent 2017 season, reaching the heights of years gone by and despite being world number 1 in the past, this would be a career highlight for the Dane if she could finally capture her first Grand Slam title.
These two have met six times since 2012, with Wozniacki leading the head-to-head 4-2.
Wozniacki has won their three most recent meetings, including a thumping 6-0 6-2 win at the Masters Cup in late 2017 and a three set win on the grass of Eastbourne last season.
Halep is the favourite to win the Open at $1.73 at Sportsbet with Wozniacki a $2.20 outsider.
Halep to win 2-0 is the most favoured option in the set betting market at $2.50, with Wozniacki 2-0 at $3.75
A straight sets victory looks the most probable option, with under 2.5 sets at $1.57 and over 2.5 sets $2.25 at Sportsbet.
A tremendous Australian Open ladies draw comes to an end on Saturday night when the two top seeded players meet for the title.
Simona Halep should be too good for Wozniacki as she possesses the better ground strokes and fitness.
Neither player really holds the advantage when it comes to the mental game in this one, but we think this match will go the distance, with Halep sneaking home.
Best bet- Simona Halep to win 2-1 at $4 at Sportsbet
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