Out-of-nowhere Ostapenko to face Halep for French Open title

15 June, 2017, 01:48 | Author: Douglas Reid
  • Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski right and India's Rohan Bopanna return against Anna Lena Groenefeld of Germany left and Robert Farah of Colombia during their mixed doubles final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in P

Halep, the 2014 runner-up, was down 5-1 in the second set, then was a point from losing while down 6-5 in the tiebreaker but came up with a backhand victor down the line to extend the match.

Ostapenko powered her way to a 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3 victory to make history as the first Latvian grand slam finalist and the youngest at any grand slam since Caroline Wozniacki in NY eight years ago.

Ostapenko fell in the first round on her main draw debut here a year ago but is one win away from becoming the first player since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997 to win their maiden tour-level title at a Slam.

The 2014 runner-up, who saved a match point in the previous round, will become world number one if she defeats Jelena Ostapenko, the daredevil Latvian who blazed her way to Saturday's final. Not since Mima Jausovec in 1983 has a player outside the leading ranks made it all the way to the trophy decider.

"To be in the final again is great".

"Tennis is not popular in our country because it's a kind of expensive sport", said Ostapenko, who will crack the top 20 after her breakout display in Paris.

Ostapenko clinched victory with her 50th victor, a forehand into the corner, and has hit more winners - 245 - than anyone else in the tournament despite the men playing best-of-five-set matches.

In contrast, Halep registered 14 in both columns.

A rasping Pliskova forehand gave her a battling hold and she warmed to the task in the second set, causing Halep far more problems with brutal groundstrokes and a venomous serve as she broke for the first time to take a 4-2 lead.

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In the end, she could at least reflect on progress in Paris - before this year, she had never got beyond the second round in five attempts.

"I'm really happy, I love to be here", Ostapenko said after the crowd serenaded her with a chorus of Happy Birthday.

The unseeded world No. 47 has booked a spot in the French Open final with a three-set win over Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland-oh, and she turned 20 years old today.

Only 19 years old, Jeļena Ostapenko upset former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki on Tuesday. "I think it's a nice gift", she said.

".I don't think it's better, but somehow I'm just winning".

Halep could have won the first set easier if she had converted break points in the fifth and ninth game.

"Then every match I was playing better and better and I got my confidence, and I think it works pretty well".

Pliskova was gasping for air after the longer points, but saved three break-back points in the next game and another forehand victor ensured both semi-finals would go the distance. "I really like competing in this tournament, but it was not easy as we had to go to the locker room twice for rain delays". Still, not much later, she was two points from taking that set. "She was more successful".

With Bacsinszky serving at 3-5 Ostapenko, coiled like a spring, brought up two match points with an unstoppable backhand return that cleaned the baseline then smote a rasping forehand return victor that left her opponent flat-footed. They had very similar stats in serve percentage and aces, but Ostapenko hit more winners with 50 against Bacsinszky's 22.

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