French Open French Open… French Open French Open…
After a birthday win for Jelena Ostapenko and a victory against the world No. 3 for Simona Halep, the French Open 2017 women’s final has been set.
In an unlikely finale, world No. 47 Ostapenko, who had never won a match at Roland Garros prior to this year, has set up a meeting with a woman who almost missed the event with an ankle ligament problem.
Had Halep been fully fit, she would’ve been most people’s favourite but for her to make such a swift recovery has been remarkable.
But even with injury, people gave Halep a chance. No one would’ve had Ostapenko down to reach the final.
we take a look at the unlikely meeting and offer a prediction as to who will come out on top.
What’s on the line?
So, so much!
Obviously, both are chasing their first Grand Slam titles but there are also significant rankings changes on offer.
Halep can become world No. 1 for the first time with a win – Angelique Kerber will remain top of the rankings if she loses – while Ostapenko will rise as high as 12th.
The 20-year-old can also become the first Grand Slam winner from Latvia, while Halep can become the third Romanian to win a major after Ilie Nastase and Virginia Ruzici.
Both Nastase and Ruzici were French Open champions but Halep would be the first Romanian Slam winner since 1978 – almost 40 years ago.
How did they reach this stage?
Halep cruised through her opening matches but has faced an incredibly tough run from the quarter-finals onwards.
She took out second favourite Elina Svitolina, having been a set and 5-1 down, before knocking out second seed Karolina Pliskova.
Ostapenko has also enjoyed an impressive run herself, beating former US Open champion Sam Stosur, ex-World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and Timea Bacsinszky on her way to the final.
This will undoubtedly be her biggest test, though.
What’s their head-to-head like?
Incredibly, this will be the pair’s first meeting, which only adds to the intrigue surrounding the contest
What we can compare, though is their career stats and it’s clear that Halep certainly has more experience of the big occasion.
The Romanian has won an impressive 15 WTA Tour titles and been to the last-eight of every Grand Slam.
Ostapenko is yet to win a singles title and this is her first time beyond the third round of a major.
What have they both said?
Ostapenko: When I came here, of course I didn’t expect I would be in the final.
But then, like, first match was a tough match, as well, and I won it. I think it kind of gave me confidence.
Then every match I was playing better and better and I got my confidence, and I think it works pretty well.
Halep: I never played against her, I think. I don’t know what to expect from her. I saw a little bit of her match today.
In my opinion is similar to what I had today, so maybe’s gonna be the same plan.
You never know with this kind of player, so I have just to stay there for every ball. Every ball is important against them. So I will be there and ready to fight.
This is certainly a tough one to call – Ostapenko has looked largely unfazed by the challenges lying ahead of her and appears to be able to hit through anybody with her powerful groundstrokes.
Halep, though, is a fighter and relentless on clay, although perhaps her near miss in 2014 could play on her mind.
Ostapenko may be blessed by youth in terms of the removal of nerves but it’s still difficult to bet against Halep at this stage.
It’ll be close but the Romanian is the more consistent player and should be able to grind her opponent down.
Grand Slam record: Halep
Australian Open: Quarter-finals (2014, 2015)
French Open: Final (2014, 2017)
Wimbledon: Semi-finals (2014)
US Open: Semi-finals (2014)
Australian Open: Round three (2017)
French Open: Final (2017)
Wimbledon: Round two (2015)
US Open: Round two (2015)