Halep is absolutely, positively not tapping out anymore. Mental toughness under the bright Melbourne lights is now an asset for the Romanian.
Against Davis, Halep faced three match points serving at 10-11, 0-40. She won five straight points to hold.
Against Kerber, the situation was even more dire, as Kerber held two match points serving at 6-5, 40-15 in the third set. Halep won the next four points. When she finally won one of the greatest matches ever played at the Australian Open, it was not relief on her face. It was a smile. A big, broad, fun-loving smile.
She’s not running from the challenge anymore. She is embracing it.
Halep is conquering her inner demons that have stopped her like road blocks in the past. Less negative. Less likely to go away. Saving four match points will do that to you.
Wozniacki has equally had a mentally strong run to the final. In her second round on Rod Laver Arena, she also saved two match points against Jana Fett. Fett was serving at 5-1, 40-15 in the third set, but Wozniacki found a way with resolve and consistency.
Saving match points can be very empowering for a player. Bent, but not broken. It’s a fascinating dynamic in this women’s final that both players have saved match points on their journey Down Under.
This final will be decided from the baseline. Wozniacki has won 54 per cent (291/535) of her baseline points through six matches, while Halep is at 52 per cent (368/703). Basically the same.
The ratio of forehand and backhand winners, however, is quite different,