Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Unseeded Ostapenko, Halep for French Open final

Published:Friday | June 9, 2017 | 6:00 AM
Romania’s Simona Halep in action during her semi-final match against Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic at the French Open tennis tournament yesterday.
Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko celebrates her win over Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland during their semi-final match of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros yesterday.
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PARIS (AP):

Jelena Ostapenko became the first unseeded women's finalist at the French Open in more than 30 years by beating Timea Bacsinszky yesterday.

The 47th-ranked Ostapenko, the first Latvian player to reach a Grand Slam final, will play

No. 3 Simona Halep, who beat second-seeded Karolina Pliskova.

The last unseeded player to reach the final at Roland Garros was Mima Jausovec, who lost to seven-time French Open champion Chris Evert in 1983.

Ostapenko won 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, sealing the win on her second match point with a forehand winner to break Bacsinszky's serve for the fourth time in the set. It was her 50th winner of the match, which also saw her make 45 errors.

The Latvian turned 20 on Thursday and Marion Bartoli led the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd in singing "Happy Birthda," in French to Ostapenko moments after her victory.

Yet to win world title

Ostapenko is yet to win a World Tour title. The last player to win their debut title at Roland Garros was Gustavo Kuerten, who lifted the title the day the Latvian was born.

Ostapenko's strong forehand made the difference. It was measured at 76 mph (122 kph), faster than the average of top-ranked men's player Andy Murray.

"I was always playing aggressive and trying to hit the ball when I have the chance," Ostapenko said. "It probably helped me to win today."

Yesterday was also Bacsinszky's birthday, her 28th. It is the second time in three years she has lost in the French Open semi-finals.

Halep won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach her second Grand Slam final, having finished runner-up here to Maria Sharapova in 2014.

The 25-year-old Halep clinched victory on the first of her two match points when Pliskova, who made 55 unforced errors during the semi-final, sent a return long.

Halep had broken early in the third set and threatened to break again in the fourth game, but Pliskova saved with an ace and went on to hold.

Pliskova then broke to level the set, but Halep broke straight back to leave the Romanian serving for the match.