Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
Sports | By Mabel Barber

Ostapenko reaches first Grand Slam final on 20th birthday at French Open

Ostapenko reaches first Grand Slam final on 20th birthday at French Open

Women's No. 3 seed Simona Halep of Romania made a comeback into the final at Roland Garros after three years with a three-set victory over the second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, while Latvian promising star Jelena Ostapenko got a ideal birthday gift as she overcame Timea Bacsinszky in the semifinals here on Thursday. But that did not seem to trouble the Swiss player too much as she broke straight back.

Not since Mima Jausovec in 1983 has a player outside the leading ranks made it all the way to the decider.

"I'm just happy. It was extremely tough - she's No. 3 in the world and a very tough opponent".

It looked like the same might happen in the third set when Bacsinszky fought back from 3-1 to 3-3 but Ostapenko had learned her lesson and clinched victory with a forehand into the corner - her 50th victor.

The French Open champion will be a first-time major victor while victory will also crown the Romanian third seed as the new world number one, replacing Angelique Kerber.

".I don't think it's better, but somehow I'm just winning".

"If I could be only disappointed on one aspect of the match it's some opportunities I had in the first set", Bacsinszky said.

Pliskova would have risen to No.1 had she defeated Halep, but she fell to the 25-year-old for the fifth time in six career meetings despite mounting a late rally to force a decider.

"We need new stars", Evert told an event hosted by broadcaster Eurosport, for whom she is working as a pundit during the French Open.

But just when the storm appeared to have blown over Ostapenko, who knocked over former runner-up Sam Stosur and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki en route to the semis, hit another purple patch to roar home from 3-3.

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"I mean, when I came here", Ostapenko said, her words spilling out with nary a pause in between, "of course I didn't expect I would be in the final".

Ostapenko will face Simona Halep in the final on Saturday after continuing her incredible run at Roland Garros.

But Ostapenko played fearlessly in the decider and pounded away a 50th clean victor to become the first Latvian player to reach a grand slam final. "I feel proud, because I think the mental part helped me a lot this tournament in all matches", she added.

She said: "I'm really happy with my win today and it was a really tough match". "But what I like even more is her hunger, and you can see it on her face".

The Czech said: "Ostapenko is having a good run here, and she's a risky player for everybody, but I would bet everything what I have on Simona".

Ostapenko faltered when she tried to serve it out at 6-5, but the Latvian took the tie-break with a swinging backhand volley.

"I didn't think I would ever make it back".

It was clear from the start that she was going to be the aggressor and she edged a first set in which she hit 21 winners.

Ostapenko crunched 50 winners to Bacsinszky's 22 but her raw attacking instinct also brought 45 unforced errors to the Swiss counter-puncher's 19.

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