Unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko has shocked the tennis world with her power game by coming from a set down to beat third seed Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3 and win the French Open women’s title.
The 20-year old at a point found herself a set and 3-0 down,looking all doom and gloom. In the end her aggressivity paid off to rally her back into the final. She sealed the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen with an incredible backhand return winner, one of 54 she hit throughout the entire match.
The contrasting game styles of the two finalists came to play from the very first point. Halep with good defence and court coverage, biding her time for opportunities to pounce on her opponent. Ostapenko is all about attacking and hitting hard from inside the baseline.
Ostapenko got the first bite of a break on the Romanian in the opening game. But the 20-year old could not consolidate her advantage, losing serve immediately to Halep. That would be the same in game six as she could not back up a 3-2 lead.
The pressure to hold serve was enormous. Ostapenko’s approach produced spectacular winners but also was equally prone to many unforced errors. Halep caught the Latvian in game ten and broke for the first set.
The 2014 finalist Halep took control of the match in the second set. Ostapenko seemed to be going for too much and found herself 0-3 down. But with no ‘plan B’, she stuck to her game and began reaping the rewards. Six of the next seven games went in her favour to level and send the final into a decider.
Halep once again jumped ahead 3-1 in the decider and looked to have had the cushion needed and experience to get her to the finish line. But the 47th ranked youngster was unfazed, not overwhelmed by the occasion stayed on the offensive and drew level.
The turning point came in game seven with Halep facing a break point. Ostapenko drove a backhand which was destined to land in the tramlines, somehow clipped the let cord and settled on Halep’s side of the net.
Crucially, Ostapenko held serve comfortably for 5-3 and hit two stunning winners to complete a surreal two weeks at Roland Garros.
As for Halep, the wait for a major title continues after missing out on her second final Paris. The Romanian miss the chance to become world number one in the women’s rankings.