French Open 2017: Jelena Ostapenko to meet Simona Halep in Roland Garros final
Ostapenko is first unseeded player to reach the final in Paris since Mima Jausovec in 1983; Halep into her second Roland Garros final
By Sky Sports Tennis
Last Updated: 08/06/17 7:47pm
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.
Ostapenko celebrated her 20th birthday by crushing Bacsinszky's hopes with a nerve-jangling 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 victory, which included a total of 16 breaks of serve on a sweltering Court Philippe-Chatrier.
But her impressive tally of 50 winners, including a bludgeoning forehand on her second match point, helped her become the youngest finalist at any major since Caroline Wozniacki in New York eight years ago.
Halep reached her second Roland Garros final with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Pliskova, taking her to within touching distance of a first major title and the world No 1 spot.
Ostapenko, the world No 47, is the first unseeded player to reach the final in Paris since Mima Jausovec in 1983 while the last player to win their debut title at Roland Garros was Gustavo Kuerten on June 8, 1997 - the day Ostapenko was born.
"I am really happy. I love to play here, I love you guys, you're amazing. I'm just happy with the way I celebrated my birthday!" said Ostapenko as the crowd sang 'happy birthday' to her.
"I was always playing aggressive and hitting the ball when I have a chance. It probably helps me to win today."
Ostapenko, whose average forehand speed of 76 mph this tournament has eclipsed that of men's world No 1 Andy Murray (73), will face either 2014 Roland Garros runner-up Halep on Saturday for the title.
Romanian third seed Halep, the runner-up to Maria Sharapova in 2014, was thankful still to be in the tournament after her remarkable recovery from a set and 5-1 down against Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.
And she showed the full extent of her defensive skills to come through against Pliskova.
"It's an amazing feeling right now," said Halep after her fifth win in six meetings against Pliskova. "It was extremely tough today as Karolina is a very tough opponent.
"To be in the final again is great. I hope to win this time. But I am facing a young opponent, it will be a big challenge."
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