In an all-Adidas and all-Wilson Roland Garros final, fresh 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko stuck to her aggressive and fearless game, even when unforced errors were going through the roof, and recorded a close victory over third seed Simona Halep, preventing the Romanian from becoming a new world No.1.
The 47th-ranked Ostapenko, who will rise to No.12 after this superb French Open run, stunned us all by opening the championship match with a fearless break of Halep’s serve, without losing a point! However, that impressive start was just that, a start, as Halep broke back right away and the set evolved into a tense affair in which Ostapenko’s aggressiveness didn’t turn out to be fruitful, being accompanied by too many unforced errors. The third-seeded Halep won the set 6-4, recording just one winner, but also just two unforced errors, while Ostapenko hit 14 winners and 23 unforced errors.
When Halep raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, it seemed that her defensive and patient game would win over Ostapenko’s offense, but the Latvian 20-year-old won four straight games to lead 4-3, soon afterwards taking the match to the decider, which was similar to the second set, as Ostapenko recovered from 1-3 to 4-3 and eventually won the big match 4-6 6-4 6-3.
Latvia’s Ostapenko, who celebrated her 20th birthday with a semifinal victory over Timea Bacsinszky, was an absolute joy to watch because she’s totally not humbled by her lack of experience and youth. She owns the court and the moment, even when she makes errors. That was a deciding factor in this French Open final.
En route to the title, the unseeded Ostapenko defeated Louisa Chirico in the first round, Monica Puig in the second round, Lesia Tsurenko in the third, seed No.23 Samantha Stosur in the fourth, seed No.11 Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, seed No.30 Timea Bacsinszky in the semis and finally Halep, preventing the Romanian from winning her first Grand Slam title.
What a story! The last woman to win her debut tour-level title at a Grand Slam was Barbara Jordan at 1979 Australian Open. We’ll definitely see so much more from Ostapenko!