The future of women's tennis is now: French Open victor Jelena Ostapenko

by Steven Clarke June 15, 2017, 1:40

World number 47 Ostapenko, who only turned 20 on Thursday, came from a set and 3-0 down to beat third seed Simona Halep on Saturday, incredibly securing her maiden WTA title in the process and becoming the first unseeded victor of the women's singles title in Paris since 1933.

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko kisses the trophy after winning the women's final match of the French Open tennis tournament against Romania's Simona Halep.

Halep would have been world No 1 had she won the title, however it was not her day, as Ostapenko became the youngest woman to win since 1997, the first Latvian to win a grand slam singles title. When she'd miss, she would slap her thigh or crack her racket on the red clay or raise a palm as if to say, "What was up with that shot?" I love you guys. "I'm just really, really happy". She screamed "Come on!" or pumped a fist or smiled broadly. "I didn't really understand how to play on grass", Ostapenko said. The last woman to lose the first set in the French and then rally for a win was Jen Capriati in 2001. "I think I'm different player, and I'm much stronger than 2014".

In six rounds, she has executed 245 clean winners - 26 per cent of all the points she has played.

En route to the final, she beat a string of higher-ranked players, including Australia's Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky. "In three weeks, I'm going to get ready for that".

Having arrived in Paris as the little-known world number 47 from Latvia, Ostapenko leaves as the world number 12 and with her career earnings nearly tripled.

But Ostapenko simply does not do fear and she continued to attack, slamming groundstroke winners on both sides, the power of her striking drawing gasps from the crowd. And also I think my character is like that. A couple of break points to make it 4-0 presented themselves to the Romanian giving an impression that she had found a way to counter her opponent's onslaught.

"And so I will work hard to climb the rankings and to maybe win some more titles". I think Simona, maybe she felt a little bit nervous because she had a lot of pressure.

In retrospect, Halep probably would have liked to have been more aggressive, but she knew going in that she would be outhit - that there would be periods when she would just watch the ball fly by, unable to do anything about it. "I can not change anything, so I just have to look forward", said the Romanian. But she held, and went on a four-game surge, playing the only way she knows how: from the front foot and going for the lines. It was possibly her best chance to win a Grand Slam.

"It's a tough moment for me, but it's gonna go away, I hope, with the time".

Halep, with cheers of "Simona" ringing out from her fans slowly roasting in the upper tiers of Philippe Chatrier Court, settled into a rhythm and broke three times to take the opener as Ostapenko's error count soared to 23. She wanted to live the experience of playing for the first time a such important match.

She's also the first unseeded woman to win the title in the Open Era.

But it was not until the closing moments of her win over third seed Halep, the 2014 runner-up, that the Latvian contemplated winning the title.


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