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Caroline Wozniacki beats Simona Halep to win 2018 Australian Open title

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Six years ago a 21-year-old Dane named Caroline Wozniacki was ridiculed as a paper No.1, a pretender to the throne of Serena Williams, sitting atop the WTA Rankings without ever having won a Grand Slam title.

Thereafter followed a downward spiral as the young Dane battled challenges on and off the court and slowly made the climb back up the rankings to be in a position to challenge for titles. However, she never really looked close to breaking her duck on the stages that really matter, and her trip down under appeared to be more of the same as she was a point away from crashing out in the second round at the hands of unheralded Croatian Jana Fett in the second round.

Nearly 10 days later, Wozniacki was in tears again, however, this time as a first time ever Grand Slam champion, winner of the 2018 Australian Open.

The final promised to be a humdinger as a fresh and hungry Wozniacki took on the current world no.1 Simona Halep, herself a survivor of near elimination, battling back from match points down to beat Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals.

The fact that Wozniacki had played a lot less tennis than the Romanian was evident very early on as she opened up a comfortable 5-2 lead in the opening set before a mixture of nerves from the Dane and an adrenaline rush from Halep saw the latter battle back to bring the set back on serve at 5-5.

Wozniacki regained her composure though and took the opening set in a tiebreak 7-2.

Halep looked drained and devoid of energy, yet she battled for every point and amazingly took the second set 6-3.

The decider was riveting and swung one way and then the other. Wozniacki took a 3-1 lead before Halep fought back to nudge ahead 4-3. Wozniacki broke right back for 4-4 before holding to go ahead 5-4.

Serving to stay in the championship, Halep finally crumbled under the pressure, throwing in a double fault en route to dropping serve, going down 6-7, 6-3, 4-6 in another three-hour marathon.

The Romanian was predictably in tears after the loss, and shared, "I was really tired. I had so many problems at my feet, pain everywhere. But I think I did pretty well with all the things that were going on. After the first set, I just was out. I don't know what happened. No energy, no power. But then I just said that I have to hit all the balls, and then I could take the second set."

"I can still smile," Halep shared after the match. "It's fine. I cried, but now I'm smiling. Is just a tennis match in the end. But I'm really sad I couldn't win it. I was close again but the gas was over in the end. She was better. She was fresher. She had actually more energy in the end."

It took a while for it to sink in for Wozniacki that she had finally climbed to the top of the mountain. She shared, "My voice is shaking. I never cry but this is an emotional moment. I was a nervous wreck this morning because I wanted to win so bad.

"I dreamed of this moment for so many years and to be here today is a dream come true."