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Simona Halep overcomes Kerber in epic semis to reach Australian Open final

Simona Halep

Melbourne, Jan 25 (UITV/IANS)- World No.1 Simona Halep justified her ranking by defeating Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 in a gruelling Australian Open semi-final here on Thursday.

The Romanian top seed battled for two hours and 20 minutes to eventually subdue 21st seed Kerber, becoming the first Romanian woman to reach the Australian Open final, reports Efe.

"I try to be very calm, but today was like a rollercoaster up and down. I didn't give up, not even a ball. I did it really well, and I'm really proud of myself actually." Halep, the two-time French Open finalist, said.

"I will fight for every point and not rest until I finish this tournament. So next week, I will rest," she added.

The 26-year-old, who is yet to win a Grand Slam, dominated the first set, racing out into a 5-0 lead before allowing Kerber back into the game, taking the first 6-3.

The German struck back to take the second set 6-4 after saving two break points that would have had Halep leading 5-3 and serving for the match.

A dramatic third set saw Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, break Halep as the Romanian served for the match at 5-3.

Kerber then broke again at 6-6, but could not complete the victory after losing two match points.

Both players were visibly exhausted in the late afternoon heat as they slugged the ball back and forth, before Halep eventually came out on top after finally breaking Kerber's serve to win the third set 9-7 and end the German's 10-match winning streak.

Halep will now play Denmark's number two seed Caroline Wozniacki, who also qualified for her first Australian Open final with a straight sets victory 6-3 7-6 (7-2) over Belgium's Elise Mertens earlier on Thursday.