Unseeded, just 20, Ostapenko wins French Open for 1st title

Unseeded, just 20, Ostapenko wins French Open for 1st title

Unseeded, just 20, Ostapenko wins French Open for 1st title

Simona Halep is targeting the world number one ranking in Saturday's French Open final but fast-rising Latvian upstart Jelena Ostapenko threatens to crash the Romanian's party as a first-time major champion will be crowned.

But when Halep led by a set and 3-0 in the second, with three chances to go up 4-0, she became unnerved, perhaps thinking about what it would feel like to lift the trophy.

Ostapenko had blasted her way into the final on the back of 245 winners - more than any other player in the draw, man or woman.

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

She broke to go up 4-3 on an improbably net cord, held for 5-3, then with the help of a slight mishit inside-out backhand broke Halep, raising her arms and screaming after slapping a victor off a serve on match point.

"There are similarities because of course when I was born he won the first Roland Garros", said a smiling Ostapenko, who could barely believe how many people had crammed into the media room. "We will see what is gonna be". Four of the first six games went against the serve, creating a 3-3 score-line, during a period where Ostapenko might have regretted not building a lead. A couple of break points to make it 4-0 presented themselves to the Romanian giving an impression that she had found a way to counter her opponent's onslaught.

"So I can say I was there, I was close, but again, I lost it. I can not change anything, so I just have to look forward", said the Romanian. The match was in the palm of her hand and it appeared to finally be her breakthrough moment after years of consistent results.

Halep, beaten by Maria Sharapova in the final here in 2014, had been the favourite from the start of the tournament and looked to be cruising at a set and 3-0, with points for 4-0.

To compare French Open finalist Jelena Ostapenko's preferred style to ballroom dancing, just conjure up an image of the quickstep and speed it up by a factor of 10.

"Jelena won this match, Simona did not lose it", the Australian told reporters. "I think it is kind of a lucky, lucky number or something". Clay isn't even her preferred surface - she likes grass better, and won the Wimbledon junior title in 2014 - which made this two-week joyride even more unpredictable. Also in the deciding moments, I played pretty well in those games.

"Also you need to have tactics", she said.

It was her first career title as she became the lowest-ranked victor in Paris, taking the trophy in just her eighth major appearance. "It's wonderful", said Ostapenko, the first Latvian to claim a Grand Slam crown. It's my goal. But I'm just going to try to work hard now and try to reach the high ranking. "So I want to really hit the ball".

A telling statistic: Of the 33 points Halep won in the first set, only one - yes, just one! - came via a victor off her racket.

Halep has had issues before with being too self-critical and coming down hard on herself, particularly during matches.

Some doubt whether such an approach can seriously upset Halep, especially in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a French Open final. Cahill is optimistic that won't be the case.

Though Ostapenko would have plenty of wobbles and misfires in the big-hitting games to come, she never once gave the impression that she was out of her element.

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