dglobalnews.com Birthday girl Ostapenko, defense master Halep enter French Open final
Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Sports | By Jeannette Edwards

Birthday girl Ostapenko, defense master Halep enter French Open final


The underdog Ostapenko also became the first Latvian ever to have reached the final at a Grand Slam tournament.

Simona Halep defeated No 2 Karolina Pliskova to reach the French Open final, where she will face the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko.

Ostapenko lost her opening match on her Roland Garros main draw debut a year ago, but the world number 47 is hunting a victory that would see her become the lowest-ranked champion in tournament history.

Ostapenko celebrated her 20th birthday by crushing Bacsinszky's hopes with a nerve-jangling 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 victory, which included a total of 16 breaks of serve on a sweltering Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Mixed in with her scintillating winners, including forehands faster than anything men's world number one Andy Murray has managed here so far, were 45 unforced errors, some of which could have been included in a video nasty.

She sealed her place in the final with a forehand winner - her 50th winner of the encounter - and minutes later "Happy Birthday" was being sung in French, led by interviewer and former Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli.

- "I am really happy". "I believe she has the game to beat top players, which she has done this year, but there's still some areas of her game to improve in order to win a Grand Slam", she added. Ivanovic won the title at the French Open the next year. The last player to win their first title at Roland Garros was Gustavo Kuerten in 1997.

Ostapenko's strong forehand made the difference. Ostapenko's average was 76 miles per hour (122 kph).

"I was always playing aggressive and trying to hit the ball when I have the chance", Ostapenko said. "That helped me win today".

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But the Latvian took the challenge to Bacsinszky with her aggression, nipping ahead at 4-3 before the Swiss called for the trainer.

With such an attacking game, backing Ostapenko could be a precarious business. "She had more courage".

It was clear from the start that Ostapenko was going to be the aggressor and she edged a first set in which she hit 21 winners.

Ostapenko edged a first-set tie-break but looked to have lost her way in the second when she dropped four games in a row.

Halep, who was runner-up to Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros in 2014, is a step closer to achieving both her goals at the French Open after beating Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Simona Halep of Romania plays a backhand during her semifinal match against Karolina Pliskova.

The Romanian entered the French Open as the form women's player on clay and just might have destiny on her side after rallying from a set and 5-1 down - then saving a match point - in the quarterfinals against Elina Svitolina on Wednesday.

After a hard first set in which she fell to Halep, Pliskova battled back to level the match at one set apiece.

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