French Open final 'a nice gift' for Ostapenko

French Open final 'a nice gift' for Ostapenko

Simona Halep defeated No 2 Karolina Pliskova to reach the French Open final, where she will face the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko.

Jelena Ostapenko became the first Latvian Grand Slam finalist after blasting her way past Timea Bacsinszky while Simona Halep battled past Karolina Pliskova at the French Open on Thursday.

Besides bidding for a spot in the final, second-seeded Pliskova knows she will replace Angelique Kerber as the world No. 1 by downing third-seeded Halep, the in-form women's player on clay.

In her last appearance in a final at Roland Garros in 2014, Halep was beaten by Maria Sharapova but on Saturday she will be the favourite against her inexperienced opponent.

However, Pliskova rallied, breaking for a 4-2 lead in the second and levelling the contest at a set apiece. I won the first set and was very close to making the final and some thoughts were in my mind.

"I hope this time I can play better", Halep said, "and I can win it".

Halep said: "It is an awesome feeling, I'm so happy".

Czech second seed Plíšková would have become world number one next week had she won the second semi-final.

- Bacsinszky took a medical timeout to receive treatment on her right leg while trailing 4-3.

The only real sign of nerves came at 3-3 in the second set, when she dropped serve from 40-0 and Bacsinszky went on to level the match. She's also made a lot of unforced errors - 217 - but her winners come at big moments, and the power of her groundstrokes, both forehand and backhand, have drawn gasps from the crowd. "We are trying to improve my game and I think it's working pretty well". She is now ranked fourth in the world behind Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams and Pliskova.

With Bacsinszky serving at 3-5 Ostapenko, coiled like a spring, brought up two match points with an unstoppable backhand return that cleaned the baseline then smote a rasping forehand return victor that left her opponent flat-footed.

The 5-foot-6 (1.68-meter) Halep is a ball-chasing, defensive dynamo unafraid of lengthy exchanges who gets to almost everything off an opponent's racket and is careful when she swings.

Ostapenko's forehand formed a stable foundation for her path to victory in the end, while Bacsinszky will have to be content with only matching, and not beating, her career-best finish at a Grand Slam.

Halep drew first blood in the final set when she connected on a running forehand victor to break for 3-1. And to put it into context, 50 winners is enough to win two full sets (and the first two points of a third).

"It is an unbelievable feeling, I'm so happy". It was her 47th Grand Slam tournament, the most ever played by a woman before earning a championship.

In a stunning coincidence, the amiable Brazilian secured the first of three victories here on the day Ostapenko was born.