Kostiuk, Mertens and Wozniacki
Behind 254 singles matches of the Australian Open. It is always difficult to summarize something so big and fit it into one sentence, but let’s try it. The tournament was a success. Especially his female half. We saw many interesting matches, some great thrillers and fairy tales. One of these tales is the performance of 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk, who not only made her way to the base, but also reached the third round. The Ukrainian woman undoubtedly attracted the attention of the world community.
Another incredible story is Alice Mertens’ semi-final. The Belgian, who made it into the main draw for the first time, immediately showed an amazing result. For Alice, it was only the fifth Grand Slam tournament: in three of them she lost in the first round, in another she reached the third round (Roland Garros-2017), and in the fifth she was one step away from the final. Mertens was supposed to qualify for the Melbourne qualifier last year, but she couldn’t do it because … she retired late.
Alice and Sachia Vickery competed in Hobart the same week as the Australian Open qualifiers. Both girls were declared in qualification and wanted to quickly lose in Hobart in order to move to Melbourne. The problem is that you can’t film before the match. In this case, the rules prohibit playing in another tournament in the same week. As a result, Vickery and Mertens both called a doctor after the first game, and the American was a few seconds faster. She went to Melbourne and Alice stayed in Hobart and won the tournament. A year later, she defended her title and was already able to play in the Australian Open, because the rating was enough for the main draw. Moreover, Alice nearly hit the seed. On the big stage, she showed herself perfectly, and now they will probably treat her differently. Isn’t it a fairy tale?
The Danish princess became queen
But the real fairy tale happened on Saturday in the central arena named after Rod Laver. Caroline Wozniacki, who has been ranked first for 67 weeks and has never won the Helmets, has finally peeled off the offensive nickname “Slackless”. A few years ago, such a triumph was out of the question. Wozniacki dropped to the eighth ten of the rating, at the “Helmets” she regularly lost in the first week and even in the first circles, she was going through a breakup with her boyfriend Rory McIlroy and was trying to find a suitable coach. Carolyn then stopped working with her father Peter, then returned to him. She has worked with Mikael Mortensen, Thomas Hogsdedt, Ricardo Sanchez and Sasha Bazhin. It was cooperation with Sasha that helped make a major breakthrough in 2017.
Carolyn won 60 matches in a season, reached eight finals and took her first major win in 5.5 years at the Final Tournament. Rather, it is an even more significant success than the 2012 Indian Wells title. And now Wozniacki also became the champion of the “Slam” and returned to first place. A real fairy tale! At the same time, in the second round, she was one point away from the defeat from Yana Fett. She led 5: 1, 40:15 in the third set and in the first match was inches from the ace.
The final match with Simona Halep turned out to be very beautiful and dramatic. Maybe he was slightly inferior to the game between Khalep and Angelique Kerber, but in any case, the battle turned out to be very bright: the girls spent almost three hours on the court. If Simona started well with Kerber and immediately took the lead 5: 0, then here she did not enter the game. However, the nerves have not yet been canceled. Wozniacki, serving for the game, squeezed a little and allowed Halep to reach the tie-break, which, however, remained for the Danish.
Both girls fought for the first “Helmet” and played in the third final. Simone lost twice at Roland Garros, and Caroline lost twice at the US Open. But someone has to interrupt the black streak. Wozniacki was much fresher. Her previous match was much easier, and she played before. The final started at 7:30 pm local time, but Melbourne was still very stifling and hot. In the middle of the second set, Simone called a doctor, and her blood pressure was measured. It was obvious that if Wozniacki still had some reserve, then Halep was playing almost to the limit.
However, she performed the second set better. The Danish woman did not serve at all – only 43% of the hit. In addition, she gave the initiative to Simone, who was good at attacking, especially from the right. The main thing was that Halep realized her only break point, and Karolina missed all seven. She corrected herself in the opening of the decisive set and took the lead 3: 1, but then Simona found a second wind and had a great next three games. The left-to-left exchanges were mostly successful for Wozniacki, but Halep acted better on the right and perfectly found the moment to transfer down the line after a long exchange of crosses.
Another turning point occurred when the score was 4: 3, when Simone had only twice to take his serves. Sounds easy, but Wozniacki took advantage of her freshness. She just stopped being wrong. Moreover, she got incredible balls from the defense and forced Halep to regularly throw extra shots. The 10th game Wozniacki actually won entirely through patience and tenacity. Halep was already very tired, and she lacked attention. With a score of 7: 6 (7: 3), 3: 6, 6: 4, Carolina won the main victory in her career and immediately burst into tears on the court. “I am very glad that I will never be called” Helmless “again , – said Wozniacki after the victory.
Federer’s 20th Helmet: Harder Than Expected
The men’s final turned out to be less spectacular and interesting. In him, unlike the female one, there was a clear favorite. Roger Federer had set his sights on winning Melbourne for the sixth time and winning the 20th Slam. His opponents were quite comfortable Marin Cilic (8-1 in personal meetings). In addition, due to the intense heat, the organizers decided to close the roof, and this, rather, was in the hands of Roger. This has not been officially confirmed, but it is possible that this decision was made after the incident with Halep. Due to dehydration, she was admitted to the hospital, from which she was already discharged. And on Sunday at this time, an even stronger heat was established than on Saturday. Many experts disagreed with the organizers’ decision to close the roof, but the Australian Open finals were held in the hall.
The first set was completed in just 20 minutes. Federer won 16 of the first 20 points and had no intention of giving Cilic time to swing. The Swiss completely outplayed his opponent on the back line and had a big advantage in reception. Of course, the serve is one of Marina’s main weapons, but in the first set it remained in the locker room. Only at 0: 4 did the Croat manage to add a little and finished the first set on equal terms, but that meant a 2: 6 loss. Nevertheless, Cilic managed to continue not letting go of the opponent in the second set. First of all, the Croat started from the “foundation” – from the filing. Confident games on their serve allowed us to gain confidence and play more actively on the back line, create opportunities for attacks and move forward. That might not have been enough anyway, but at the decisive moment in the tie-break, the Croat took it deeply, then played exactly on the right, earned a double set point, and scored a smash at the second set point.
Marin became the first tennis player to win a set against Federer in this tournament. In any case, the ending was saved: there will be no hour-long defeat. Outwardly, the Swiss looked absolutely unperturbed. He understood that he had a game in principle, but in the second game he slowed down a little. But in the third, the Swiss closed his serve and had an excellent game at the reception. Cilic’s “body language” showed that he was constantly dissatisfied with something. Several times he asked the bolboys to take the rackets to change the string tension, and when the rackets were returned to him, Marin glanced displeasedly towards his team.
Almost as quickly as the first set, Roger won the third – 6: 3. Moreover, he quickly took the lead 2-0 in the fourth and had a break point. Is it time to engrave the champion’s name on the cup? Not so fast. Federer played the worst game of the match at 3: 2, and then lost three more! An amazing slump in the Swiss game led to a decisive set. Roger’s serve went wrong altogether: the percentage of hits in the fourth set was only 36%. Federer sharply slowed down and allowed Cilic to uncover his forehand to the fullest. Marin finished the game much better than his opponent and naturally achieved the decisive segment, although after 25 minutes everything looked like a crush.
Federer took the lead 3-0 in the fifth set, although all the games were over-under, so in theory Marin could have gotten the same advantage. It became clear that there would be nothing easy in this match: Roger had to gnaw out every point. And yet, the fifth game was easy for the Swiss. After several stubborn games, the Swiss made the second break, regained confidence and calmly finished the match. Ironically, like last year, he won the Australian Open thanks to the challenge – 6: 2, 6: 7 (5: 7), 6: 3, 3: 6, 6: 1. At the awards ceremony, the Swiss started thanking the audience and shed a tear. Well, the Australian Open is over, but there are new major events ahead.