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Last Updated Tuesday May 22 2018 07:00 PM IST

Wozniacki through to maiden Australian Open final

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Caroline Wozniacki Caroline Wozniacki, who has yet to win a Grand Slam title despite spending 67 weeks as world No. 1, sealed the victory and a place in her third major final. Reuters

Melbourne: Caroline Wozniacki came through a late bout of nerves to reach the Australian Open final for a first time with a 6-3, 7-6(2) victory over Belgian Elise Mertens on Thursday, giving herself another shot at winning a maiden Grand Slam title.

The Dane had dominated her second Melbourne Park semifinal until she was 5-4, 30-0 up and serving for the match but suddenly faltered with a pair of double faults to allow her 22-year-old opponent back into the contest.

Mertens, playing only her fifth Grand Slam, took full advantage and, unleashing a string of winners, broke the former world No. 1 and racked up two set points.

Unlike in her 2011 semifinal against Li Na, when she blew a match point, Wozniacki was able to recover her composure and saved them both on the back of a couple of booming serves.

After four deuces, the 27-year-old held with a thumping forehand then raced away with the ensuing tiebreak to seal a title-decider against either Simona Halep or Angelique Kerber.

"I got really tired at 5-4," she said on court. "After the two first good serves, I thought, 'Calm down, it's all good', then it kind of wasn't good any more.

"I felt like my legs were shaking a little bit. I was like okay 'This is not normal, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now', I just took a few deep breaths and once she had set point, I said, 'Well, I guess it is the third set. I guess now you just need to go for it'.

"(The 2011 match) was definitely on my mind out there today -- Li Na. I tried to stay calm and I was lucky to get a win.

Elise Mertens Elise Mertens went down fighting. Reuters

Wozniacki has yet to win a Grand Slam title despite spending 67 weeks as world No. 1 and is the only player to have won more than 25 WTA titles without claiming a major title.

She lost six successive tour finals in 2017 but showed a more aggressive edge to her game when she saved two match points to battle back from 5-1 down in the third set to win her second round match against Jana Fett last week.

Victory on Saturday would take her back to the top of the world rankings but, having lost both her previous Grand Slam finals at the US Open, clearly finally landing a major title would mean far more.

"That is a nice thing about being first on," she said.

"You win, you can relax and you can see the other ones play it out and obviously they are both amazing players, incredible fighters and athletes. It is going to be really difficult, but I'm in the finals and at that point it's the last match."

Read also: More Sports News

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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