Jelena Ostapenko makes French Open final after win over Timea Bacsinszky
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 10, 2017,
Jun 10, 2017, 10:30
Women's No. 3 seed Simona Halep of Romania made a comeback into the final at Roland Garros after three years with a three-set victory over the second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, while Latvian promising star Jelena Ostapenko got a flawless birthday gift as she overcame Timea Bacsinszky in the semifinals here on Thursday.
The third seed, who will become world No. 1 if she defeats Ostapenko in Saturday's showdown, benefited from her opponent's unforced errors in the first set before Pliskova rediscovered her touch.
The Latvian turned 20 on Thursday and Marion Bartoli led the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd in singing "Happy Birthday", in French, to Ostapenko moments after her victory. This has been a magical tournament for the young Ostapenko, as she had little to no grand slam success heading into the French, and now she made her first ever grand slam final appearance on her birthday.
I hope this time I can play better, Halep said, and I can win it..
Ostapenko sealed the win on her second match point with a forehand victor to break Bacsinszky's serve for the fourth time in the set.
- Halep is now one win away from claiming the world number one ranking and her first grand slam title. Halep had lost to Maria Sharapova in the 2014 final.
"I'm a different player, my game is stronger, I think more about the game, I play smarter", she explained. "I was always playing aggressive and hitting the ball when I have a chance".
Halep will enter this year's final as the favourite but either way it's guaranteed there will be a first-time Grand Slam victor on Saturday.
- Bacsinszky when she realised she had won just one less point than her opponent Jelena Ostapenko in their semi-final on Thursday.
After falling into a 4-1 hole, Pliskova managed to get the set to 4-3, before Halep took the reigns back and didn't relinquish them for the rest of the match. She had just 14 unforced errors though, compared to Pliskova's 55.
The 20-year-old defeated the Swiss 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 yesterday to stay on course for a first WTA title.
Bacsinszky complained of a problem above her right knee after jarring her foot in the clay and resumed play with her leg heavily taped.
Logic suggested the steady approach she adopted after losing the first-set tie-break would get the job done for the experienced Swiss, not the white-knuckle rollercoaster tennis Ostapenko was playing.
Pliskova saved a couple of set points at 5-3 - the first one with a service victor, the second by scooping a delicate inside-out forehand victor - to stay just a break down. She was also 0-2 career at the French Open entering the event.
"I said that the match is lost".
Her win over Pliskova was an interesting contrast of styles, with Halep's angles and movement pitted against Pliskova's serving and booming groundstrokes.
The last player to win their debut title at Roland Garros was Gustavo Kuerten on June 8, 1997 - the day Ostapenko was born.