Since the 2017 Australian Open, Roger Federer has played in the finals of three out of five Grand Slams tournaments and won all three of them. He was stuck at 17 Grand Slam titles since Wimbledon 2012 but broke the jinx at Melbourne last year. On Sunday January 28, 2018, Federer won the Australian Open for sixth time and took his overall Grand-Slam win tally to 20 by defeating a plucky Marin Cilic in five sets 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Incidentally, it was Cilic, whom Federer defeated in the final of Wimbledon 2017. Women’s singles final played on Saturday was no less engrossing, in which Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki recorded her first ever Grand Slam victory by defeating Romanian Simona Halep 7-6, 3-6, 6-4. With that title, Wozniacki also became women’s no.1 tennis player.
Federer began his crusade in dominating fashion and wrapped up the first set 6-2 in just under 25 minutes. When everyone took the final as a repeat of 2017 Wimbledon final between the two players, Cilic came back strongly in the second set. The Croat’s ability to serve at great speeds made Federer stand more than a meter inside baseline when Cilic served. Besides making his service count, Cilic also chipped in with some fine placements and nullified Federer’s early advantage by breaking back the Swiss Master’s service. The set went to tiebreak and Cilic overcame his nerves to clinch it. In third set, Federer kept Cilic on the back-foot and extracted an early break. All Federer needed to do was to keep the momentum, which he did and took the third set 6-3. But Cilic was not done yet despite Federer breaking him early and mounting to a 2-0 lead. The Croat stormed back by breaking the Swiss twice and raced to a 5-3 lead. Federer looked in trouble and his unforced error count went up. Cilic leveled set scores to 2-2 by taking the fourth at 6-3.
However, Federer Master-class prevailed in the decider. The Swiss was down a breakpoint in the first game but saved it make it 1-0. The intensity turned electric as Federer broke Cilic’s service next and holding his own led 3-0. From this point onward, Federer made the right moves and broke Cilic once more to make the score 5-1 on his own service. There were no further hiccups as Federer raced to his 20th Grand Slam title.
Women’s final on Saturday was one of the hardest-fought games in Grand Slam finals history. World no.1 Simona Halep of Romania faced world no.2 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. The two women played so well that it became difficult to predict the winner. The first set slid into the tiebreak before the Dane took it. Halep looked in trouble in the second set and had break points against her in the third game that lasted for 11 minutes. The Romanian finally held her serve to lead 2-1. The tussle continued between the two and finally Halep obtained a break in the eighth game to lead 5-3. She didn’t err on her service next and took the set 6-3.
The final set saw a series of breaks and counter-breaks after Wozniacki held her first service game,. First Wozniacki broke Halep to make it 2-0for herself but Halep broke back. Next was Wozniacki again who broke Halep again for a 3-1 lead. Another break from Halep and service-hold took the score to 3-3.The players next traded back-to-back breaks and scores came level at 4-4. It became difficult to choose the final winner at this time. The ninth game was a hold for Wozniacki as she received Halep’s service next at 5-3. At 30-30 all it was still anybody’s game but Wozniacki feasted on an error from Halep to earn the championship point and kept her nerve to break Halep to lift the 2018 women’s title at Melbourne.
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