Women's Match of the Decade No. 6: Halep d. Kerber, 2018 Aussie Open

Women's Match of the Decade No. 6: Halep d. Kerber, 2018 Aussie Open

An overtime semifinal between two players with their similar mix of defense and offense, running and ranting, the Romanian emerged with a 6–3, 4–6, 9–7 victory.

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“I was fighting until the last point,” Angelique Kerber told reporters in the interview room in Melbourne.

A few minutes later, Simona Halep walked—hobbled, really—into the same room and said exactly the same thing.

There was no other way to sum up this overtime semifinal between two players who, with their similar mix of defense and offense, running and ranting, were made to create epics together. Its furious, glorious final 50 minutes may have been the decade’s best sustained run of play.


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It began with Halep serving at 5–3 in the third. After a 26-shot full-tilt, full-roar rally, Kerber broke serve with a crosscourt backhand that couldn’t have been angled any more acutely. Kerber dropped to her knees in exhaustion; little did she know that she and Halep were just getting started.

For the next seven games, with a spot in the final on the line, the German and the Romanian ran each from corner to corner, punched and counterpunched, grunted with aggression and desperation, held and saved match points, raged at their coaches in frustration, and then left that frustration behind. More than anything else, the two women rose to the occasion, and to each other’s level.

At 7–7, Halep, who hit 50 winners, found one more level. At 7–8, Kerber, finally, couldn’t match it.