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Halep outlasts Kerber in thriller to go through

Saturday, January 27, 2018

MELBOURNE - World number one Simona Halep quelled a tenacious Angelique Kerber fightback and saved two match points to reach her first Australian Open final with a riveting 6-3 4-6 9-7 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

A wildly unpredictable match veered one way, then the other, before the Romanian ended Kerber's resistance on her fourth match point in a spellbinding deciding set that pushed both players to the limit of their endurance.

Former champion Kerber, who won only five points in losing the opening five games, was jelly-legged at times but fought off two match points in the 10th game of the third set before seeing two of her own come and go two games later.

In the end Halep's insatiable desire for a maiden grand slam title proved the greater force as an exhausted Kerber struck a backhand over the baseline. Halep will now face Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in the first Australian Open final between two players still chasing a first major since 1980. On top of that the showdown between the top two seeds will have the number one ranking on the line.

"I feel happy. I feel proud that I could stay there and fight till the end," said Halep who has fought for 12 hours and 16 minutes to reach her third grand slam final and saved match points against American Lauren Davis in a third-round epic.

"I tried to be calm but today I was like a rollercoaster, up and down. But I was not afraid of losing, so maybe that's why I won those match points."

She will need to dredge the depths of her energy reserves against Wozniacki if she is to join the grand slam winners' circle after falling at the last hurdle twice in Paris.

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