Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko Stuns Simona Halep to Win Title

Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko Stuns Simona Halep to Win Title

Yesterday, she blasted her way to a first Grand Slam title with a stunning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 come-from-behind victory over Simona Halep of Romania, a triumph of fearless hitting and sublime ball-striking of the like the tournament has rarely seen.

The 20-year-old is the youngest French Open victor since Iva Majoli in 1997 and the first player to win a debut tour-level title at a Slam since Gustavo Kuerten in Paris that same year."I am really happy".

But the difference on this day: Halep faded at the end of the second and third sets, while Ostapenko surged, bringing her mother - a tennis instructor who taught young Jelena how to play - to tears in the stands.

"So I think it's kind of maybe a lucky, lucky number or something", Ostapenko told reporters.

Kuerten's 1997 victory came on the day Ostapenko was born.

Jelena Ostapenko overpowered title favourite Simona Halep to become one of the most surprising grand slam champions of all time. She kept the faith and still tried for the winners against all odds, and when she was down and ought to be losing hope.

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko kisses the trophy after winning the women's final match of the French Open tennis tournament against Romania's Simona Halep.

A forehand down the line brought up Ostapenko's 36th victor, and with it a huge roar from the captivated home crowd, as she drew level at one set all. She was the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2014. But Ostapenko rallied, just as she would against two much more experienced players - the 2011 United States Open champion Sam Stosur in the fourth round and the former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals. And, it was after this point that the match began to veer, ever so slightly, turning away from Halep's corner to Ostapenko's. "I'm just really, really happy".

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- Halep broke Ostapenko's serve three times to take the first set 6-4. And yes, she was trying to become the first woman in almost four decades to make a Grand Slam title the first tour-level triumph of her career. "It's just the way I play".

Halep won the second set with a net-cord victor but on Saturday Ostapenko earned the key break of the third at 3-3 with her own slice of luck.

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

"At some point I was like a spectator on court", Halep said.

Third seed Halep stormed into the quarter-finals without dropping a set, but she faced match point against Elina Svitolina before pulling off a miraculous recovery from 3-6, 1-5 down to reach the last four.

In retrospect, Halep probably would have liked to have been more aggressive, but she knew going in that she would be outhit - that there would be periods when she would just watch the ball fly by, unable to do anything about it. If I have a chance to go for a shot, I'm trying, and it's quite helpful.

Her backhand down the line was going wide until it hit the top of the net, changed direction and seemed to hang in the air for an eternity.

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