She had a warrior's run to her third career Grand Slam final, and Simona Halep's perserverance in the month of January earned her your votes as the first WTA Player of the Month of the season for January.
Descending upon Melbourne Park for the first Grand Slam of the year, Halep reached her third career Grand Slam final and finished runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki, but it seemed all but assured that she would even take the court for her second round match after rolling her ankle in her first-round victory over Aussie wildcard Destanee Aiava.
Halep bounced back admirably over the course of her next six matches, but had a flair for the dramatic in-between.
The top seed saved three match points against American Lauren Davis in the third round in a match which lastest three hours, 45 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, eventually winning 4-6, 6-4, 15–13.
The match equaled the Australian Open record for most games played in a women's singles match at 48 — equaling Chanda Rubin's 1996 quarterfinal win over Arantxa Sánchez Vicario.
Later in the tournament, Halep saved two match points against former champion Angelique Kerber in the semifinals, winning 6-3, 4-6, 9-7 to reach the championship match.
In the final, Wozniacki and Halep battled for nearly three hours, and though Halep rebounded from losing the opening set in a tiebreak to force a decider, she was unable to come all the way back to win - despite leading by a break in the final set. Wozniacki claimed her first major title with a 7–6(2), 3–6, 6–4 victory.
Heads high, chins up: What we learned from Wozniacki and Halep's Aussie epic
Halep started her 2018 by winning the Shenzhen Open in China, becoming the first player to win two titles at the Chinese event. She beat Nicole Gibbs, Duan Ying-Ying, Aryna Sabalenka and Irina-Camelia Begu to reach the final, where she upended defending champion Katerina Siniakova in three sets in a match moved indoors due to inclement weather.
She also won her first WTA doubles title in Shenzhen alongside Begu by defeating Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova in the final.
Final Results for January's WTA Player of the Month
1. Simona Halep (71%)
2. Caroline Wozniacki (25%)
3. Angelique Kerber (3%)
4. Elina Svitolina (1%)
How it works:
Finalists are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com