His­tory made as Ostapenko wins French Open ti­tle

CityPress - - Sport -

Latvia’s Je­lena Ostapenko stunned third seed Si­mona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 yes­ter­day to win her maiden Grand Slam ti­tle and be­come the low­est-ranked cham­pion in French Open his­tory.

Ostapenko (20) is the first un­seeded player to lift the Roland Gar­ros ti­tle in the Open era, and the first Lat­vian ma­jor cham­pion in his­tory.

She is the youngest win­ner of the French Open win­ner since Iva Ma­joli in 1997, and the first player to win a de­but tour-level ti­tle at a Grand Slam since Gus­tavo Kuerten in Paris that same year.

For Halep, who was bid­ding to join com­pa­tri­ots Ilie Năs­tase and Vir­ginia Ruzici as Open win­ners, it was a sec­ond fi­nal de­feat in four years at Roland Gar­ros.

The 25-year-old would have re­placed An­gelique Kerber as world num­ber one with a vic­tory, but Halep was over­pow­ered as Ostapenko blasted 54 win­ners to the Ro­ma­nian’s 10.

Ostapenko set the tone im­me­di­ately, dis­guis­ing any nerves with an ar­ray of bruis­ing ground­strokes to break Halep in the open­ing game.

But the Ro­ma­nian de­liv­ered a swift coun­ter­punch, hit­ting back straight away on the Lat­vian’s serve be­fore hold­ing with ease for 2-1.

More crisp shot­mak­ing for Ostapenko nudged the 20-year-old ahead once more, but the er­rors flew off her rac­quet just as reg­u­larly, and Halep pulled 4-3 in front.

Ostapenko’s wild­ness be­trayed her as she served to stay in the set at 4-5, net­ting a fore­hand to of­fer Halep set point and drilling long to gift the Ro­ma­nian the set.

The Lat­vian’s mood soured fur­ther when Halep es­caped from 0-40 down to be­gin the sec­ond set, the third seed then broke Ostapenko to com­pound her frus­tra­tion.

Halep con­sol­i­dated with a gritty hold for 3-0 be­fore Ostapenko fought off a trio of break points to stall her ri­val’s mo­men­tum and spark an in­cred­i­ble come­back.

The Lat­vian moved level on serve when Halep hooked a fore­hand wide and then earned another break to chalk up a fourth game on the trot.

The er­rors crept back into her game and Halep re­sponded for 4-4, but Ostapenko promptly broke to love to leave her­self in sight of a de­cid­ing set.

She con­jured up three set points with a laser fore­hand down the line, forc­ing the match to a third set with another sweetly struck win­ner.

Ostapenko con­tin­ued her feast or famine style, but watched two break points flash by as Halep with­stood a sus­tained as­sault.

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

The Lat­vian stepped in to pum­mel a weak sec­ond serve for 15-40, with Ostapenko grab­bing a huge slice of luck when a way­ward back­hand clipped the net and just dropped over for a 4-3 lead.

Halep, who saved match point against Elina Svi­tolina in the quar­ter­fi­nals, had no re­sponse this time and Ostapenko sealed a stun­ning tri­umph with another break by ham­mer­ing a back­hand down the line.

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