New Women’s Champion Coming Up

She is young and reckless in a sense. She is not afraid of anything. Beaten semi-finalist, Timea Bacsinszky, on her conqueror Jelena Ostapenko .

Exciting Roland Garros final in prospect

By Roger Childs

The women’s grand slam finals in recent years have been an unpredictable scene. When Serena has been playing she has often won, but otherwise it’s been a lottery. The early rounds of the big tournaments have been a graveyard for many top ten seeds.

It’s no surprise this year in Paris, with a pregnant Serena in the crowd, that there are two finalists who have never won a grand slam. Number three seed Simona Halep has promised much in recent years and was runner-up at Roland Garros three years ago.

Her opponent, is the unseeded Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko.

Fearless and powerful

Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko celebrates winning her semi final match against Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky Reuters / Christian Hartmann

It was Ostapenko’s 20th birthday on Friday, and she celebrated with a close 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 victory over 30th seed Bacsinszky in the first semi-final. It was a tight match and both players demonstrated their all round skills, power and fitness.

After taking the first set in a tie-break, Ostapenko seemed to be headed for a two set victory, but at 3-3 she unexpectedly dropped serve allowing the Swiss to cruise to a 6-3 win in the second set.

The Latvian has a strong serve and excellent ground strokes, especially a devastating cross-court forehand, but she is a risk taker and sometimes hits too wide and pays the penalty.

However in the third set, she won the last three games to take the match 6-3.

The first unseeded finalist in over 30 years, is realistic about her chances of a grand slam victory:  I need to stay aggressive and to play my game, but it’s going to be a tough match and I have to be ready for it.

Halep too strong

The second semi-final was also close. Second seed, Czech Karolina Pliskova, played third seed Simona Halep, with the Romanian prevailing  6-4, 3-6, 5-3.

Pliskova on the left made too many errors against Halep

Both played some excellent tennis with strong serves, powerful forehands and great retrievals. However Pliskova was less consistent and her unforced error tally was 55! to her opponents 19.

Halep is short of stature but strong, and makes plenty of noise! Associated Press sums her up well:  (She) is a ball chasing, defensive dynamo, unafraid of lengthy exchanges she gets to nearly everything off an opponent’s racquet and is careful when she swings.

Her patience, superior retrieval skills and the ability to hit accurate, consistent cross-court winners was the difference in this match.

Picking a winner: not easy

I will play for two things: my first Grand Slam and No. 1 in the world, Halep said. It’s a big challenge, a big chance. I think I have the game. I have the mentality to win, but it’s gonna be tough.

She is the more experienced player and should win.

However, Ostapenko has plenty of youthful exuberance and everything to play for.

If she comes out on top, she will be the first ever Latvian grand slam winner.