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The Draw: 30 June

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Saturday 10 June 2017 16:54 PM BST
French Open Day 14: Ostapenko claims first Grand Slam title rounds up the action from Day 15 at the 2017 French Open. READ MORE

Bringing her fearless, go-for-broke brand of tennis to the French Open final, Jelena Ostapenko stunned Simon Halep to become the first unseeded player in the Open era to win the Roland Garros title, as well as Latvia's first ever Grand Slam champion.

Ostapenko came from a set and a break down to beat the pre-tournament favourite from Romania, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in Paris.

“I still cannot believe I am the Roland Garros champion and I’m only 20,” said the youngest winner of the French Open since Iva Majoli in 1997.   

Ostapenko's final French Open winner count

Just two minutes into her first Grand Slam final - and just her eighth Grand Slam event - the 20-year-old marched back to her seat after breaking the Romania’s serve with a blistering backhand.

But Ostapenko then got broken just as rapidly in the next game. With the crowd firmly on her side, Halep was the first player to hold serve, going up 2-1 as cheers of “Simona, Simona” rolled through a packed stadium.

Ostapenko, the first unseeded player in a French Open final in 34 years, broke for a 3-2 lead, only to drop her serve once more in the next game as she struggled to keep the ball inside the lines.

Serving to stay in the set at 5-4 down, Ostapenko stopped her service motion at 30-30 when a spectator shouted out from the stands. After missing her first serve, she handed Halep a set point as she dumped a forehand into the net on the second. Halep took the first set 6-4 after a high ball drew the error as Ostapenko shook her head.

After saving a break point in the opening game of the second set, Halep took a 3-0 lead as she started to absorb her opponent’s powerful shots better and mixed up the pace.

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. 

Serving for a 5-3 lead, Ostapenko played a nervous game to get broken on an unforced error. But after breaking Halep in the next game, Ostapenko didn’t waver, setting up her first set point with a monster forehand down the line before forcing a decider with another huge forehand, her 22nd winner of the set.

Just as in the second set, Halep took a 3-1 lead before Ostapenko fought back to 3-3. The Romanian was then broken in the seventh game when an Ostapenko backhand clipped the netcord and dropped dead.

With Halep serving to stay in the championship at 5-3 down, Ostapenko set up her first championship point with an angled backhand return and won the biggest match of her life with a backhand down the line - her 299th of the entire tournament.

Ostapenko has been the revelation of this year’s French Open. A feisty character who trained as a ballroom dancer before opting for tennis and wears her heart on her sleeve, she had struck an astonishing 245 winners to reach the final, including 50 in the semi-final. Halep had produced 118 to get to the final.

Ostapenko has made huge strides since she started working with former clay-court specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues a month ago. Although she had lost all three finals she appeared in before Paris, she more than rose to the occasion against Halep to win her first ever senior title.

“I don’t know what to say,” a stunned Medina told French television. Ostapenko’s mother, who was her first coach, wept from the stands.

“There are so many emotions,” Ostapenko’s mother said. “I always believed.” 

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