Home » HEADLINES AND FEATURES, Lead, Randy Walker, Top Stories » “A Classic, Not Quite An Epic” – Steve Flink Reviews Wozniacki vs. Halep Australian Open Thriller

By Randy Walker



As becomes a tradition for me, whenever there is a hallmark mark in professional tennis, I email tennis journalist and historian Steve Flink to get his take on where the match measures up in the history of tennis.

In 2012, I published Flink’s book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” so he is the authority on the greatest matches in the sport and their context against others.

I sent him an email to get his perspective on where the fantastically enthralling Caroline Wozniacki vs. Simona Halep Australian Open final stood for him. Wozniacki’s 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4 win in two hours, 50 minutes was immediately seen by most observers as one of the most exciting in recent memory, with many storylines and plots surrounding the match-up.

Flink, an International Tennis Hall of Famer inductee in 2017, called the match “a classic but not quite an epic.”

“I put it beneath Martina Navratilova – Chris Evert at the 1981 Australian, Monica Seles – Steffi Graf in 1993 at the Australian and Jennifer Capriati – Marina Hingis in the Australian Open final of 2002,” write Flink. “But this was one of the best Grand Slam finals of the last decade and  it is definitely the best Australian Open final I have seen in 15 years.”

The final-round match-up had a lot of the line. Both Wozniacki and Halep were famous in their pursuits of their first major title and the result would end the Oddssey for one of the players, while the other would have to be like Sisyphus and his famous rock-pushing exercise and would have start from scratch again to push the rock to the top of the mountain once again.

Wozniacki, with now 28 career singles titles and 67 weeks as the No. 1 player in the world, now loses her tag as the greatest women tennis player of all time without a major singles title. Halep, with 16 career singles titles and 16 total weeks as the No. 1 player in the world, now assumes this mantle as Wozniacki takes Halep’s spot as the No. 1 ranked player in the world.

“They both played a magnificent match,” wrote Flink. “Wozniacki seemed headed for a straight sets victory when she raced to 5-2 in that first set but tightened up when she tried to serve it out. Then she regrouped and played an excellent tie-break.”

“Halep was incredibly gutsy in the second set when she clearly did not feel well,” Flink continued. “She saved seven break points that were spread out over two different service games and somehow got through that set. Wozniacki had her chances to break the match wide open early in the third set when she had game points on her serve for 3-0. She lost her serve in that third game but broke again for 3-1. But she lost three games in a row and now she was feeling it physically with an ailing left knee. But after the trainer taped it at the changeover, she came back out and swept three games in a row.”

Wozniacki started the final set with a service hold and then broke for 2-0. The third game of the match was a battle of attrition and Wozniacki looked to consolidate her break and look to run away with the final set, while Halep fought and hung on by her fingernails and finally broke serve after six break point opportunities, benefitting from a nervous double-fault from Wozniacki on the final point of the game. Wozniacki, however, rebounded to break serve at love in the next game as Halep appeared tired and Wozniacki pumped herself up with positive self-talk to fight off her nerves. Halep, however, broke serve again in the next game – the fourth straight service break – to draw to 3-2 and then 3-3 with a hold the next game. Halep appeared to take full grasp of the final set when she broke Wozniacki to go up a service break at 4-3 in the final set. Wozniacki took a medical timeout on the changeover to have her knee wrapped and was able to turn the momentum around. She continued to fight and endure and won the last three games of the match, highlighted by some amazing defensive baseline play, especially in the final game of the match as I describe here:  http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/15159 to win to win the match.

“It was a remarkable match on both sides of the net,” Flink said. “Wozniacki was the masterful percentage player who won on defense in the end. Her retrieving in the last game of the match was stupendous. As for Halep, she nearly found a way to win a match she seemed certain to lose at many stages. The quality of the rallies was extraordinary for the most part and both women competed honorably as they battled hard for a first major title. But there were some patchy stretches from both players as they battled on a stifling evening. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular contest between two outstanding athletes who gave it their all on a big occasion.”

Back in 2012, as Flink and I were finishing off his “Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book when the epic Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic Australian Open final happened, causing us to add a chapter to the book and redo the book’s cover. You can read about the episode here:

Flink also chimed with me on the Novak Djokovic vs. Stan Wawrinka fourth round Australian Open epic from 2013 here: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/8865 and also the Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic French Open semifinal in 2013 here: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/9363 Last year, he commented on the Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer Australian Open final here: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/13986

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time,” a hard-cover book that retails for $28.95, can be purchased via this link http://m1e.net/c?110071729-mFSTVX3uyJ5zw%407612075-hqIGItXY8SJAw at www.NewChapterMedia.com and where ever books are sold.

Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”

Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his new book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Said CBS, NBC and Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time is a masterful tennis epic. Its pages are brimming with insight, hindsight. And as always with Steve Flink, the 20/20 vision of the subtleties and complexities of a match. From Budge to Nadal and “Little Mo” to Serena Williams, Steve will guide you through the greatest matches you ever saw, or never saw. The game’s finest players and brightest moments will come alive and play again, right before your eyes. This book is a tennis treasure.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sand Harwitt, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com) “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk” by Emily Filloramo, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep

Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep

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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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