The Latest: Halep rallies to reach 1st Australian Open final

The Latest: Halep rallies to reach 1st Australian Open final
Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki eyes the ball to make a return to Belgium's Elise Mertens during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Thursday at the Australian Open (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Simona Halep has advanced to her first Australian Open final after saving two match points and rallying to defeat Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-4, 9-7 in the second women’s semifinal on Thursday.

Both women had their chances to put the match away in the 68-minute-long third set.

Halep was serving for the match at 5-3, but was broken after Kerber ended a 26-stroke rally with a backhand winner that just clipped the line. The German player then fell to her knees and put her forehead on the court in exhaustion.

Halep had two match points in the next game, but Kerber saved the first with a backhand down the line and the second when Halep hit into the net.

After Kerber broke to take a 6-5 lead, she then had two match points of her own, but Halep saved them both and then broke back to level the match at 6-all.

Serving at 7-8, Kerber saved a third match point before Halep finally converted on the fourth when the German sent a ball long.

Halep said after the match, “Definitely was very tough. I’m shaking now, I’m really emotional because I could win this match.”


4 p.m.

Caroline Wozniacki has advanced to her first Australian Open final, beating Elise Mertens 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the first women’s semifinal on Thursday.

Wozniacki was steadier than her 22-year-old opponent for much of the match, though she had her own wobbles toward the end. Wozniacki double-faulted twice while serving for the match at 5-4, allowing Mertens to break serve and level the score at 5-all.

Wozniacki settled her nerves, however, and fought off two set points before closing it out on her first match point in the tiebreaker.

Wozniacki said she started thinking about her Australian Open semifinal loss to Li Na in 2011 when she wasted a match point. Then she tried to put it out of her mind.

She said, “I just tried to stay calm and I was lucky to get the win.”


2:45 p.m.

Caroline Wozniacki has won the first set 6-3 against Elise Mertens in the first of the women’s semifinals at the Australian Open.

Wozniacki is bidding to make her first Australian Open final and the third major final in her career. She’s a two-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, but has yet to win a Grand Slam title.

The Danish player would also move a step closer to regaining the No. 1 ranking if she reaches the final. It’s been six years since she last held the top spot and it would be the longest gap between stints at No. 1 since the rankings were introduced in 1975.

Mertens, who trains at the Kim Clijsters Academy in Belgium, is aiming to reach the final of a Grand Slam in just her fifth appearance at a major. Only five women have made a major final in fewer appearances.

No. 1-ranked Simona Halep takes on two-time major winner Angelique Kerber in the second semifinal.