This is nail-biting stuff. Commentator Fred Stolle mid way through the third set.
Classy tennis and a new champion
By Roger Childs
The packed house at Roland Garros in Paris witnessed one of the best women’s grand slam finals in recent years.
Number three seed Romanian, Simona Halep, and the unseeded 20 year old Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko, were well matched.
They are very similar players: both have a strong serve, powerful ground strokes, great retrieval skills and excellent shot placement.
And for the final they were both dressed by the same sports fashion company.
A roller-coaster final
The more experienced Halep won the first set 6-4 and raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second. It looked as if the Romanian would wrap it up in under
an hour. Ostapenko was hitting more winners, but often put the ball wide or too deep.
In the fourth game, on Ostapenko’s serve, there were a number of deuces and Halep had three consecutive advantages to build an unassailable 4-0 lead. But Ostapenko took the risks and it paid off. On her first advantage she hit a winner to get her first game of the set.
The momentum had shifted and the Latvian won five of the next six games to even the match at a set each.
Ups and downs in set three
Again Halep started better and at 3-1 seemed to have the match for the taking. However Ostapenko in her first ever final was playing with confidence and showing no sign of nerves. The Latvian went on to the offensive and the winners flowed: at this point she had hit 50 to Halep’s 8 for the match.
She levelled at 3-3 and won her next serve to go 4-3 up. On Halep’s serve Ostapenko hit three winners and took the game to love. Then serving for the match, she went out to 40-0 and on the second championship point hit another winner.
Halep had the match in her grasp a number of times, but just couldn’t nail the crucial points. The Latvian was just too strong and hit many powerful, beautifully placed winners, especially on the forehand.
Ostapenko found it hard to credit what she had achieved.
I mean, I think I cannot believe I am Roland Garros champion, and I am only 20 years old.
She is the first Latvian to win a grand slam and the first unseeded winner this century.
Though obviously disappointed, Halep was gracious in defeat.
All the credit for what you have done this tournament. It’s an amazing thing. Enjoy it. Be happy, and keep it going, because you are like a kid.
Ostapenko had been ranked 47th in the world, but now goes to number 12. It was a final of high quality tennis and both players will be keen to continue their very good form at Wimbledon later in the month.