World number 1 Simona Halep quelled a tenacious Angelique Kerber fightback and saved two match points to reach her first Australian Open final with a 6-3 4-6 9-7 victory in a compelling scrap at the Rod Laver Arena on Thursday January 25.
A wildly unpredictable match veered one way, then the other, before Halep finally broke Kerber's resistance to claim victory on her fourth match point when her exhausted opponent fired a backhand over the baseline.
When Halep won the first five games it seemed the expected battle royal between two of the game's most ferocious competitors would turn into a damp squib.
But Kerber roared back and had two match points at 6-5 in a brutal deciding set before Halep turned it around with some brave hitting to seal victory in two hours and 20 minutes.
The 26-year-old plays Caroline Wozniacki in Saturday's final when both players will be gunning for their first grand slam title and the world number one ranking.
Wozniacki defeats Elise Mertens
Caroline Wozniacki came through a late bout of nerves to reach the Australian Open final for the first time with a 6-3 7-6(2) victory over Belgian Elise Mertens on Thursday, giving herself another shot at winning a maiden grand slam title.
The Dane had dominated her second Melbourne Park semi-final until she was 5-4, 30-0 up and serving for the match but suddenly faltered with a pair of double faults to allow her 22-year-old opponent back into the contest.
Mertens, playing only her fifth grand slam, took full advantage and unleashing a string of winners, broke the former world number one and racked up two set points.
Unlike in her 2011 semi-final against Li Na, when she blew a match point, Wozniacki was able to recover her composure and saved them both on the back of a couple of booming serves.
After four deuces, the 27-year-old held with a thumping forehand then raced away with the ensuing tiebreak to seal a title-decider against Simona Halep.
Wozniacki has yet to win a grand slam title despite spending 67 weeks as world number 1 and is the only player to have won more than 25 WTA titles without claiming a major title.