Ostapenko aiming to break through the Halep wall

by Steven Clarke June 11, 2017, 0:58
Ostapenko aiming to break through the Halep wall

Jelena Ostapenko said she was amazed to be the first unseeded player since 1933 to capture the French Open on Saturday in a stunning and fearless 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Simona Halep.

Jelena Ostapenko presented herself with the ideal 20th birthday gift by reaching a first French Open final after roaring past Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky on Thursday.

Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland serves during her semi-final match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia at the French Open at Roland Garros stadium on Thursday in Paris.

Yet to win a WTA Tour final, Ostapenko could be the first player to lift the French Open as her maiden title since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997.

Halep is well fancied to secure her first Grand Slam title in Paris on Saturday, which would also see her overtake Angelique Kerber at the top of the world rankings, but the 25-year-old is taking nothing for granted.

But Bacsinszky pounced as the Latvian's radar misfired to break for 4-3 in the second set before Ostapenko gifted it to her with a double fault on set point.

"I didn't think I would be in the final but every match I've played better", Ostapenko, whose dad Jevgenijs was a professional football player, told reporters.

"I was always playing aggressive and hitting the ball when I have a chance", said Ostapenko, who smacked 50 winners to Bacsinszky's 22.

Since then, she has displayed telling poise - and she needed it against Pliskova, who smote 45 winners to Halep's 14.

Three years on from winning the junior Wimbledon title, Ostapenko had never made it past the third round in any grand slam and only even made the main draw here once.

The unseeded Latvian hit 21 winners and 16 unforced errors as she took the first set 7-6 (4).

"I'm really happy, I can't believe it", the 19-year-old Ostapenko said.

The average speed of Ostapenko's forehand is indeed higher than men's world number one Andy Murray at this year's tournament, a frightening prospect for most of her opponents.

Back came the Latvian, who enjoyed a huge stroke of fortune when a backhand clipped the top of the net and bounced down on Halep's side to give her a break for 4-3.

Tennis fans with tickets for Roland Garros on Wednesday are in for a bumper day of action, after rain and storms caused cancellations on Tuesday. Ostapenko rode her momentum, won the next three games, captured the set and found her rhythm once again.

"I knew about the history", said Ostapenko.

A week into the French Open, former doubles No. 1 Pam Shriver expressed her views about the open nature of the women's event at Roland Garros.

Bacsinszky won the last four games to wrap up the second set 6-3.

Nadal hasn't dropped a set but will be wary of the threat carried by three-time grand slam victor Wawrinka. "It's fantastic", said Ostapenko, the first Latvian to claim a Grand Slam crown.

Dabrowski, who is from Canada, and her Indian partner fended off two match points on their way to a 2-6, 6-2, 12-10 victory over Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Robert Farah of Colombia for their first Grand Slam title.

"Today I'm just gonna have fun with my family and my friends", Ostapenko said of her birthday plans.


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