Ostapenko reaches first Grand Slam final on 20th birthday at French Open
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 16, 2017,
Jun 16, 2017, 21:46
Simona Halep fought off a late push from Karolina Pliskova and defeated the No.2-seeded Czech in three sets to reach her second Roland Garros final in Thurday's second semifinal on Court Philippe Chatrier. She allowed Halep just four winners in the first set and coasted to within sight of the last four, but the Romanian ran away with 12 of the last 13 games to avenge her loss in the Rome final.
However, after looking more assured on her own serve in the second, Pliskova broke for a 4-2 lead to gain the upper hand in the next set.
The 25-year-old Halep, who lost to Russia's Maria Sharapova in the 2014 French Open final, came into Roland Garros full of confidence after winning a premier mandatory event in Madrid and losing to Svitolina in the Rome final.
Now ranked 47th in the world, Ostapenko was able to get by the 11th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, the 23rd-seeded Samantha Stosur, the unseeded Lesia Tsurenko, world number 40 Ekaterina Makarova and American Louisa Chirico in the opening round to reach the finals.
"I felt a little bit tight because it was a semi-final, but then I was just trying to be calm and just to try to play my game and just enjoy every moment", she said. Though she's never won a WTA singles title and had never made it past the third round at a major before this French Open, she seems unfazed by the big stage. Don't get me wrong, I'm very disappointed today, as well, but I think I'm looking at things from a different perspective.
"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.
"If I could be only disappointed on one aspect of the match it's some opportunities I had in the first set", Bacsinszky said.
Pliskova then broke to level the set but Halep broke straight back to leave the Romanian serving for the match.
"There can not be something bigger than to play for being world No. 1", Pliskova said, per Rothenberg.
Ukrainian Svitolina saved four set points at 5-6 in the second and then had a match point in the tiebreak which Halep saved with a fearless forehand that kissed the sideline and followed that with an improvised backhand victor.
"It is nice to be in the final again", Halep said. She was playing hard and strong.
Ostapenko may have lost in the first round last year and failed to make it out of qualifying a year earlier in Paris but that was largely down to her inexperience.
Ostapenko fired 50 winners and 45 unforced errors in her victory.
If Ostapenko, the world No. 47, defeats Halep on Saturday, she would become only the second unseeded woman to ever triumph at the clay-court major after Britain's Margaret Scriven in 1933.