Out-of-nowhere Ostapenko to face Halep for French Open title

Out-of-nowhere Ostapenko to face Halep for French Open title

Out-of-nowhere Ostapenko to face Halep for French Open title

"When I came here, of course I didn't expect I would be in the final", said Ostapenko, who celebrated her 20th birthday on Thursday by overpowering Timea Bacsinszky in the semi-finals. "I believe she has the game to beat top players, which she has done this year, but there's still some areas of her game to improve in order to win a Grand Slam", she added.

Jelena Ostapenko hit a double-fault on set point as Timea Bacsinszky leveled at 1-set apiece in the French Open semifinals.

If Ostapenko, the world No. 47, defeats Halep on Saturday, she would become only the second unseeded woman to ever triumph at the clay-court major after Britain's Margaret Scriven in 1933.

Ostapenko's forehand, which this fortnight has averaged three miles per hour faster than Andy Murray's, had helped her blast her way past Sam Stosur and Wozniacki in the previous two rounds. However, she's also the better player and has big match experience, including on championship Saturday inside Court Philippe Chatrier.

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The Romanian was under pressure early in the decider but finally chased down a forehand and fired a brilliant cross-court victor to grab a 3-1 lead.

The Czech made 24 errors in losing the first set, but finally edged ahead at 4-2 in the second. She will face Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the final.

A rasping Pliskova forehand gave her a battling hold and she warmed to the task in the second set, causing Halep far more problems with brutal groundstrokes and a venomous serve as she broke for the first time to take a 4-2 lead.

- Pliskova storms back with some aggressive groundstrokes, hitting 13 winners in the second set.

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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. If Halep can get past Pliskova and then go on to win the title, she'll be the new No. 1.

Halep rejected a mid-match comeback attempt from Pliskova to emerge the 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victor, a feat replicated by Ostapenko as she ousted Bacsinszky with a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 scoreline. I won the first set and was very close to making the final and some thoughts were in my mind. "She's a big hitter", said Bacsinszky, who also lost in the 2015 French Open semifinals. I'm ready to face her, and I'm ready to face another final.

Ostapenko trained as a ballroom dancer for seven years but seems more suited to thrashing the fluff off tennis balls.

A three-time champion at Roland Garros, Kuerten will be honored before Sunday's final when he will receive his Hall of Fame ring during a ceremony marking 20 years since he won his first title in Paris. She is not one to back down. That contrast was on full display in the box score, as Halep finished with 14 winners and errors, juxtaposed against 45 winners and 55 unforced errors for Pliskova.

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