French Open 2017: Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko reach final

French Open 2017: Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko reach final

It was both their birthdays yesterday, but for Jelena Ostapenko and Timea Bacsinszky, only one received a gift - a ticket to the French Open final - while the other departed for home empty-handed.

Third-seeded Halep won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, clinching the victory on the first of her two match points when Pliskova sent a return long.

Bacsinszky fended off one with a swinging serve but Riga's finest made no mistake on the second, sending a forehand whistling into the corner to become the first Latvian player to reach a grand slam final.

"She came out like a thunderstorm in the third set". "I love to play here".

Halep marked herself out as a favourite for the title at Roland Garros after winning in Madrid and finishing runner-up in Rome, but a tumble in the Italian Open final left her with ankle ligament damage and cast doubt over whether she would play in Paris.

I love that attitude, and it's the attitude with the power and the short angles - she has a game to back it up.

Simona Halep did not have an easy match against WTA number two Karolina Pliskova, but she controlled the important moments. Halep looks for her first career grand slam title, and this is her second grand slam final appearance. "I think was a battle." said the surprise package.

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Halep's semi-final defeat of Pliskova was but the latest display of the potential she brings to the table in her current form, having proved her credentials by taking out another heavyweight of the sport in her penultimate test.

And Thursday will focus on the mixed doubles and the women's semi-finals. Ostapenko's aggressive style will clash against Halep's formidable deep game, and the match may come down to who ends up blinking first and has to adapt their respective styles. "And now it's close, but it's close and it's far, as well, because I'm playing against somebody who I would (call) one of the best girls on clay".

Pliskova struck the ball ferociously, but paid the price for 55 unforced errors after being put under huge pressure by a relentless and vibrant Halep. "I'm just happy with the way I celebrated my birthday!" said Ostapenko as the crowd sang 'happy birthday'. The victor of the match will earn the first Grand Slam of her career.

It looked like the same might happen in the third when Bacsinszky fought back from 3-1 to 3-3 but Ostapenko had learned her lesson and clinched victory with a forehand into the corner, her 50th victor.

Ostapenko fell in the first round on her main draw debut in Paris past year but is one win away from becoming the first player since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997 to win their maiden tour-level title at a Slam. Kuerten won that title - the first of his three French Opens - on June 8, the day Ostapenko was born.

Ranked No 47 in the world, Ostapenko is the lowest-ranked grand slam finalist since Sharon Walsh at the 1979 Australian Open.

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