Unseeded Ostapenko tops Halep at French Open for 1st title

Friday, 16 Jun, 2017

Latvian underdog Jelena Ostapenko won her first Grand Slam title in a thrilling manner as she came back from one set down to beat No. 3 seed Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in women's singles final at the 2017 French Open here on Saturday.

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.

Halep, 25, was playing in her second French Open final, after losing in three sets to Maria Sharapova in 2014. "It's my goal, I think", said Ostapenko who will climb from 47th in the rankings to 12th on Monday. Simona Halep started on the front foot and took the game to the young Latvian and clinching the first set.

Before beating Halep, Ostapenko allowed the media to get to know her as she answered a number of questions on topics other than the final. By another twist of fate, that same 8 June marked the date that Gustavo Kuerten won the first of his three French Opens in 1997-and his first ever title-the very day that Ostapenko was born. "There are no words".

"She was on an excursion with her father at Roland Garros and she said, "Maybe one time I will become a champion here"," she added.

The major turning point for Ostapenko in the match came in the second set, when nothing was going right for her.

"I did ballroom dancing as well as tennis and I had to choose between them but I preferred tennis and I think that is my sport!" she smiled.

"I'm just going to try to work hard now and try to reach the high ranking".

"I think I was up in the third set 5-3, then I realised I can win the match", she said. And also sometimes I was making too many unforced errors.

Fittingly she thumped a backhand victor past Halep to seal victory, before tossing her distinctive green headband into the crowd with a look of disbelief. "And also I think my character is like that".

She is every bit a charming champion that Guga was. Take a bow, Jelena Ostapenko. She has worked tirelessly with Cahill recently to rectify that problem and the worry now would be that a defeat like this in the French Open final would set her back emotionally and mentally. Ostapenko dug deep and found the vulnerabilities in Halep's game to break her back and then forge ahead.

Ostapenko hit 54 winners and had as many unforced errors.

Ostatapenko is the first Latvian to win a Grand Slam and not only did the president from her country call her after her semifinal win, but many of her peers were overflowing with praise for the new star in tennis.

The 47th-ranked Ostapenko, only two days past her 20th birthday, raised her arms in victory after drilling a final backhand victor down the line.

"She danced, swam, played tennis, she played football because she had so much energy".

The fearlessness may change over time as the magnitude of matches and situations increases, depending on the stage of her career, but for now, Ostapenko is hugely unsafe and though she is capable of losing in the first round, she will go to Wimbledon, where she won the junior title in 2014, with enormous confidence.

Imagine her improved form at Wimbledon where that powerful hitting should suit her game.

Both the women were finding it hard to hold serve: Ostapenko won eight of 19 break points in the match while Halep took 6 of 16.