Caroline Wozniacki burst into tears after winning the Australian Open for the first time on Saturday, edging out Romania’s Simona Halep, 7-6(7-2), 3-6 6-4.
It was also the first time that Wozniacki was joining the league of winners of tennis greatest event after 43 attempts. She had been in the finals of Grand slam events twice before, but the trophy has been elusive.
Both players needed medical attention on court before the Dane prevailed in 2hr 49min in energy-sapping hot and humid conditions on Rod Laver Arena.
Victory on Saturday was even sweeter. She will now become world number one, when the ranking list is published on Monday, dethroning Halep, who she beat.
Both players knew what was at stake on Saturday. The Romanian was the top seed and the Dane number two, with the evening decider on Rod Laver Arena having an extra enticement for both players with the number one world ranking at stake.
Wozniacki, 27, has long carried the unwanted moniker of best player never to claim a major, having reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014, and first becoming number one in 2010.
She is in her 43rd Grand Slam appearance and desperate to get off the mark.
“I always believed in myself,” she said. “I knew that if I can stay healthy and I work hard, my game is good enough for it.”
Her hard work was rewarded with a renaissance in 2017, reaching eight finals — winning in Tokyo and at the season-ending WTA Finals, where she banished another hoodoo by registering a first career win over Venus Williams.
She continued her sparkling form at the start of this year and has 10 wins and only one defeat, to Julia Goerges in the warm-up Auckland final.
The gritty Halep, 26, made her only previous Grand Slam final appearances at Roland Garros in 2014 and 2017.
The Romanian has only beaten Wozniacki twice in their six previous matches, the most recent meeting ending in a 6-0, 6-2 battering by the Dane at the 2017 WTA Finals in Singapore.