French Open Day 14: Ostapenko claims first Grand Slam title


Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko, still a teenager when the tournament began, stunned No. 3-seeded Simona Halep from a set and a break down 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the French Open on Saturday. She's the youngest French Open champion since Iva Majoli won at Roland Garros in 1997, literally the day before Ostapenko was born.

When the young, powerful, and oh-so-exciting Latvian set out on her journey to the final here, she had played only seven previous Majors and won just four matches-none of them at her solitary French Open appearance. But if she keeps playing like this, with no fear, then who's to say she can't win there, too?

Halep seemed to be cruising towards victory when she led 3-0 in the second set and had break points for 4-0 but then the unseeded Ostapenko loosened up and fired winners into every corner and on to every line.

'I knew she could hit that hard but I'm really surprised how she handled the two weeks, ' said the Spaniard.

The French Open may have been her first WTA title, but I doubt it will be her last. "There are no words".

But when Halep led by a set and 3-0 in the second, with three chances to go up 4-0, she became unnerved, perhaps thinking about what it would feel like to lift the trophy.

With 20 years, no experience in the finals, and especially in the Grand Slam finals, her result and achievement is much greater than anyone thinks. "And then I stayed aggressive and the match turned my way". And she would end the tournament with 299 winners-that is more than 42 winners a match. She also received wishes on social media from top tennis players - both from Men and Women.

25-year-old Halep, who will be crowned world No 2 when the rankings are updated tomorrow, was gracious in accepting her defeat.

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Quick feet, quick swings, high velocity - that is the way the 20-year-old from Riga goes about her business. Take a bow, Jelena Ostapenko.

Ostapenko was hitting the ball so strong that her shots left Halep groggy. She may struggle to regain her form in the short grass-court season, and we have seen many a player suffer a dip after getting so close to the ultimate prize.

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

Afterwards, she thanked her tennis-coach mother Jelena Jakovleva and thought back to the day she decided it would be strictly tennis at the age of 12 rather than pursuing her love of ballroom. She also faced a 3-1 deficit in the deciding third set before taking the last five games.

"I felt sick in the stomach to play in this final, so maybe I wasn't ready to win it, but maybe next time". Hurts a lot, and I need time just to, I don't know.

Halep broke for 3-1 when Ostapenko drilled long, but the latter retrieved it the next game with a thumping return.

Ostapenko, ranked 47th, had never won a Tour-level title before and was playing in only her eighth Grand Slam.