Going to the dance: Ostapenko vs. Halep in French Open final

Ross Houston
June 11, 2017

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

The livewire Latvian has electrified Roland Garros this year with a refreshingly simple game plan.

The match represented a stark contrast in styles, pitting Halep's stoic defence against the gung-ho approach of her raw opponent, who drew gasps of astonishment from the spectators with the ferocity of her groundstrokes en route to the most stunning of slam successes.

The 25-year-old Halep is a much more established player.

But she remained as one of the favourites for the tournament and saw off second favourite Elina Svitolina and second seed Karolina Pliskova before her meeting with Ostapenko in the showpiece finale.

While there are the occasional meltdowns - she looks, in the words of former champion Maria Sharapova, "like Bambi on ice" when asked to volley from close quarters - the pressure her attacking style puts on her opponents is huge.


- Ostapenko made 23 unforced errors in the first set.

Ostapenko, who will enter the top 20 regardless of the result of her first Grand Slam final, has caused gasps from crowd and experts alike with her booming game.

The fourth-seeded Nadal is 9-0 in French Open finals but he hasn't played in one since 2014.

The Latvian was the first player from her country to compete in a Grand Slam final and the first unseeded French Open finalist since 1983, where Mima Jausovec lost to Chris Evert.

Halep's gutsy hold for 4-3 elicited the first signs of frustrations from Ostapenko, whose mood was not improved as a pair of wayward forehands three games later relinquished the first set. "Three years ago was something new, so now I know".

She again failed to consolidate but Halep, perhaps feeling the pressure, dropped serve to love and Ostapenko picked an ideal time to produce her first emphatic hold of the set, sealed with a fizzing forehand down the line. She deserved to win.


The Romanian also has the carrot of knowing victory would see her overtake Angelique Kerber as world number one.

A break at the start of the second put her in control as she raced into a 3-0 lead.

The 20-year-old Ostapenko hit 14 winners but made 23 unforced errors, while Halep made just two but only hit one victor. If she had taken any of them, most likely that would have finished off Ostapenko. Osuigwe won the match 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3. Not only did she defeat Halep, but she ousted former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, former French Open finalist Samantha Stosur and 2015 semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky.

The two players square off at Roland Garros on Saturday.

"She is smiling all the time", Medina Garrigues said.

Ostapenko, who relaxes by reading Agatha Christie books, is the first Latvian player ever to reach a grand slam final.


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