Unseeded Ostapenko stuns Halep

15 June, 2017, 01:37 | Author: Felix Jensen
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A set and three games down, Jelena Ostapenko looked like she would lose in her first grand slam final.

Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko fought back to stun third seed Simona Halep and become Latvia's first Grand Slam champion at the French Open.

The 20-year-old Ostapenko, who is ranked 47th, clinched it with her first match point, with a backhand down the line.

Halep won the second set with a net-cord victor but on Saturday Ostapenko earned the key break of the third at 3-3 with her own slice of luck.

"If I have a really good day, and I'm hitting really well", said Ostapenko, who walloped 54 winners during her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback victory over third-seeded Simona Halep in Saturday's final at the French Open, "I think anything is possible".

"I was very close to take the first Grand Slam and also No1 in the world".

The final against Halep was shown on a big screen in the centre of Riga and Ostapenko is expecting plenty of fuss when she makes a brief trip back to her home city on Monday.

The Australian coach believes Ostapenko stepped up when she was down a set and break, rather than seeing it as Halep having a letdown. I'm just so happy. If she keeps improving, she is sure to have some more big days on the court, too, even if she played down any suggestion she was now on a par with the sport's biggest stars.

From then on, Halep looked resigned to her fate and Ostapenko held her serve easily before breaking again, firing a stunning backhand victor on the return - her 54th victor in all - to clinch the victory of her life. The youngster then conceded her own serve in the very next game to give Halep the first set.

After finishing a high-quality backhand to seal the history-breaking win, an excited Ostapenko threw her racquet onto the ground at the Philippe-Chatrier Court.

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"I'm looking forward to Wimbledon because grass is one of my favourite surfaces", she said.

Wimbledon is the next grand slam tournament of the year next month and Ostapenko's style of play should be well suited to playing on grass.

Playing a tactical match that dared Ostapenko to go for low-percentage shots, Halep executed her gameplan yet saw the Latvian have an answer, hitting winners from balls 99% of the tour would miss.

It also made her the first unseeded woman to triumph at Roland Garros since Margaret Scriven of Britain in 1933, when the tournament was known as the French Championships.

The victor Saturday will be a first-time Grand Slam champion.

Halep was suffering though and Ostapenko broke to love before levelling the match with a sublime forehand victor. "Of course, I work in the gym and stuff but I think I was just born like that".

"I always had the possibility I could hit the ball really hard". She also faced a 3-1 deficit in the deciding third set before taking the last five games.

By now the momentum was unstoppably with Ostapenko and she took her first match point after an hour and 59 minutes. But Ostapenko rallied, as she would against two much more experienced players - 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the fourth round and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals.

'She has a lot of advantage because she knows most of the match depends on her side.

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