“If I have a really good day, and I’m hitting really well”, said Ostapenko, who walloped 54 winners during her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback victory over third-seeded Simona Halep in Saturday’s final at the French Open, “I think anything is possible”.
The 25-year-old Halep was denied her first major championship and the No. 1 world ranking for the first time.
She hit a staggering 245 winners on her way to the final and blasted 54 to Halep’s eight, and matched it however with 54 unforced errors on her way to the title.
“I knew SImona is a great player and she was playing great”.
The last player to win their debut title at Roland-Garros was Gustavo Kuerten on June 8, 1997… “There are no words”.
She would begin the tournament ranked No47 and, by the end, was looking at a career-high No12, along the way becoming the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1933.
The writing appeared to be on the wall when Halep forged a couple of break opportunities to go 4-0 up, but she was hesitant, and the fearless Ostapenko took full advantage, turning it up a notch to clinch the next four games with a string of winners. “I was just trying to stay aggressive”, she said. “But then I felt: ‘I have nothing to lose, so I’m just going to enjoy the match and do my best'”.
She ended Roland Garros with 299 winners – more than any woman or man in the tournament. “It’s odd.’ But then in the next couple of years, I understood how to play there, how to move there, and then I really liked it”.
To make it a doubly hard day for the 25-year-old, the defeat meant she also missed out on becoming world number one.
“I think I still can not believe it, because it was my dream and now it came true”, Ostapenko said. It was Jelena Ostapenko this time.
With victories here over Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig, US Open victor Sam Stosur, former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Timea Bacsinszky and Halep, Ostapenko is no fluker.
A large contingent of Romanian fans was now chanting her name with confidence, but her run of six games in a row came to an end, and Ostapenko grabbed the momentum. “I’m just really, really happy”. While other players take the slow waltz to victory, Ostapenko is a woman in a hurry. “She deserved to win”, Halep pointed out, adding that she suffered much more from the loss this time compared with that three years ago.
The errors crept back into her game and Halep responded for 4-4, but Ostapenko promptly broke to love to leave herself in sight of a deciding set.
JELENA Ostapenko has completed an extraordinary grand slam fairytale, upstaging Simona Halep to win the French Open.
“She only has one game, either I can’t touch it or it flies one metre out”.
“Of course I would like to win all of the grand slams”.