French Open 2017: Sometimes I felt like a spectator, says Simona Halep

The 20-year-old Latvian stunned the tennis world as she reached the showpiece with Simona Halep at Roland Garros and then added another chapter to her remarkable story with a 4-6 6-4 6-3 win on Saturday.

Ostapenko became the first Latvian player - man or woman - to win a Grand Slam event, hitting 54 winners to beat Halep of Romania 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Philippe-Chatrier Court in Paris.

Facing the unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final, Halep took the first set and led 3-0 in the second. She deserved to win. She missed plenty of times against Halep - 54 unforced errors in the final matched her winners count - but it worked, especially on big points, leaving the Romanian, as she later admitted, feeling like she was a spectator.

Ostapenko was playing in only her eighth Grand Slam tournament, never having been past the third round.

"I think the whole tournament has been a plus for the women's game", he says. Ostapenko won the game with a brilliant running forehand victor even though Halep had found an incredible angle on her forehand cross court.

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. "I stayed there, I was fighting, but I think she was better than me".

Before beating Halep, Ostapenko allowed the media to get to know her as she answered a number of questions on topics other than the final.

Some doubt whether such an approach can seriously upset Halep, especially in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a French Open final. She will make her top 20 ranking debut with the win, moving to No. 12 with the victory. "If I have a chance to go for a shot, I'm trying".

In today's men' singles final, former champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka face off for the 2017 Roland-Garros title, with the Spaniard chasing an unprecedented Grand Slam Decima and the Swiss eyeing his fourth major in as many years.

"I was losing 6-4, 3-0, and then in my mind I was just going to enjoy the match, and try to fight until the last point". So that's what she told me. So I'd love to see Jelena back this up, continue to play well.

"It was always my goal to win a Grand Slam title, now I want to win them all", she said. She played really well in the very tough moments.

Ostapenko chose a tennis career over ballroom dancing, something she still practises four times a week - her favourite dance is the samba.

Scores and scores come out to support her everywhere she goes and Cahill believes she deals with it all impeccably well. It's unbelievable to play here.

Halep presents something of a polar opposite with the ball in play: She extends points, grinding along the baseline and sliding to retrieve ball after ball, forcing foes to come up with the goods time after time. Three years ago it was something new. Because of all the awesome things she acheived in the span of one tournament, there's no reason to think she can't make a deep run, and possibly get another win, at the All England Club when Wimbeldon commences in less than a month.

Many parts of Ostapenko's game malfunctioned at various times in this match, which is usually a kiss of death against the consistent, speedy, error-free Halep.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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