Australian Open 2018: Schedule, Matchups, Predictions for Saturday Bracket

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2018

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki celebrates after defeating Belgium's Elise Mertens after winning their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

The penultimate day of action at the 2018 Australian Open is headlined by the women's final featuring the top two seeds in the tournament. 

No. 1 Simona Halep and No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki will face off under the lights at Rod Laver Arena, with both players fighting for their first Grand Slam championship. 

The winner of Saturday's final will become the sixth player on the women's circuit to capture her first major since the 2015 U.S. Open, when Flavia Pennetta shocked the world. 

Halep and Wozniacki will feature in the first of two finals on Saturday, with the men's doubles championship following them in Melbourne, Australia. 

     

Saturday Schedule

Women's Singles Final: No. 1 Simona Halep vs. No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki (3:30 a.m. ET)

Men's Doubles Final: No. 7 Oliver Marach/Mate Pavic vs. No. 11 Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah (after women's singles final) 

      

Predictions

Women's Singles Final 

Both Halep and Wozniacki are in their third Grand Slam final, with both searching for the elusive first major trophy. 

Halep dispatched two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in a three-set bout in the semifinals to reach her second championship match in the span of a year. 

The Romanian player also had to work past No. 6 Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals to qualify for her first Australian Open final. 

Halep has previously had a stab at a Grand Slam championship at the 2014 and 2017 French Opens, but she was defeated in three sets by Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko, respectively. 

Vincent Thian/Associated Press

The No. 1 seed is the first Romanian player to participate in an Australian Open women's singles final, as the tournament's official Twitter account noted. 

Wozniacki suffered her major tournament final heartbreak twice at the U.S. Open. In 2009 she fell to Kim Clijsters, and in 2014 she was defeated by Serena Williams

Just like Halep, the No. 2 seed knocked off a pair of seeded foes to get into the final, but those matches occurred in the third and fourth rounds, as she defeated No. 30 Kiki Bertens and No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova. 

Just reaching the semifinal round was an accomplishment for Wozniacki in Melbourne, as she was eliminated in the first four rounds in each of the last five years. 

Wozniacki comes into the final with a 4-2 career record against Halep with three consecutive wins in her favor—including a straight-set win at the 2017 WTA Championships.

Vincent Thian/Associated Press

There's no question nerves will be at an all-time high for both players as they vie for their first Grand Slam title, and if that wasn't enough, the No. 1 spot in the world rankings is also on the line. 

Wozniacki may have a slight edge since she only had to play two sets, albeit two tough ones, against Elise Mertens in the semifinals, but this match could go either way. 

Prediction: Wozniacki def. Halep in three sets

      

Men's Doubles Final 

The unexpected men's doubles finalists advanced to the championship match amid a ton of upsets to the top seeds in the tournament. 

Austrian Oliver Marach and Croatian Mate Pavic entered as the No. 7 seed and have only defeated one seeded team on their way to the final.

Marach and Pavic were handed a break in the semifinals, as they faced the unseeded pair of Ben McLachlan and Jan-Lennard Struff, who upset the No. 1 pair of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the quarterfinals. 

Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

The Colombian duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah upset the Bryan brothers in straight sets in the semifinals to advance to Saturday's final. 

Both pairs are in search of their first Grand Slam title, and the victorious pair will be the eighth different men's doubles major winner since the start of the 2015 season. 

Marach and Pavic got all the way to the final at Wimbledon a year ago before falling to Kubot and Melo, but since then, they have won the last four finals they've participated in on the ATP Tour, including the Qatar Open and Auckland Open to start the 2018 season. 

Prediction: Marach/Pavic def. Cabal/Farah in two sets

        

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Head-to-head stats obtained from Tennis.com.

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