World number 47 Ostapenko, who only turned 20 on Thursday, came from a set and 3-0 down to beat third seed Simona Halep on Saturday, incredibly securing her maiden WTA title in the process and becoming the first unseeded victor of the women’s singles title in Paris since 1933. But the oddest bit of cosmic connection was that Ostapenko had become the first player since Gustavo Kuerten to claim the French Open as their maiden title; and Kuerten won the French Open on June 8, 1997, the day the Latvian was born.
“I am really happy. It was my dream”, said Ostapenko, who will rocket to 12th in the rankings. Her attitude clearly reflects in her style of play, an all out victor laden approach, not caring about the unforced errors leaking points.
“I didn’t see how people could play tennis on it”. A couple of games, everything turned my way.
However, history looked a long way from repeating itself when she was a point away from being a set and 4-0 down to the no.3 seed.
“I don’t believe I did something too wrong today”, Halep said. When I was a child I was watching. Because of all the incredible things she acheived in the span of one tournament, there’s no reason to think she can’t make a deep run, and possibly get another win, at the All England Club when Wimbeldon commences in less than a month.
Halep’s journey to this year’s final round also included wins against top competition.
The Latvian, 20, hit 54 winners on her way to a “dream” 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Romania’s Simona Halep.
“There are two options when you get to a your first Grand Slam final”, Chris Evert had said a few days ago at Roland Garros. So I want to have many more if it’s possible. All the credit for what you have done. “Enjoy it, be happy and keep it going because you are like a kid”.
The first two games of the summit clash were breaks of serve as were the fifth and sixth games.
But the Romanian delivered a swift counter-punch, hitting back straight away on the Latvian’s serve before holding easily for 2-1.
Not for a 20-year-old who had never won a single championship at any event on the WTA Tour, never mind on the grand stage. Although Halep has more professional experience than Ostapenko, Saturday will be just the second Grand Slam finals of Halep’s career.
Ostapenko had the advantage going into the third, but Halep showed her resiliency by jumping out to a 3-1 lead. “So if I can reduce them, I think will be helpful”.
- Ostapenko broke third seed Halep in the fifth and seventh games to take a 4-3 lead in the second 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 victor.
Cahill, who briefly interrupted his collaboration with Halep this season, citing the player’s negative attitude on court, had nothing to reproach her for on Saturday.